microsoft teams tips


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So let’s kick off with the Teams Tips…

Teams Tips:

I hope this helps you all and if you think of any other must share tips please add them to the comments and the best ones we will add to the blog post crediting the author. So let’s get started…

1. Meetings with external / Guest users in Microsoft Teams

Many people will have used Skype for business by adding it to meetings directly into the invite in Outlook, a really useful feature. Well now you can do that with Microsoft Teams and pretty much the same way:

Question and Answer from Ingeborg Hawighorst:  What needs to be in place for the β€œNew Teams Meeting” to show up in the Outlook ribbon?: If you have the Teams Desktop client installed, Outlook will see an add-in for Teams, which will automatically be enabled. If you don’t have the desktop client installed, you won’t be able to see the ribbon icon.

On the Outlook online UI, you can arrange a Teams meeting, you simply go to your Calendar and create a ‘New Event,’ and in the meeting details window, you can select ‘Teams meeting’ as the location.

As you can see from the screenshot below, in both scenarios, the meeting invite has the link to the Teams meeting at the bottom for attendees to click on when the meeting time comes.

So who can attend these meetings?…

Well, anyone with an email address can attend, whether or not they have a Teams account, which is really neat. There are a few ways users outside and inside your organisation can take part in your Teams meeting. Here are the three main ones:

i. Web Meeting

Anyone with an email and internet connection can access the call via the browser, simply by clicking on the link within the meeting invite and then clicking the ‘Join on the web instead’ button:

Whilst the resulting interface is quite restricted for the attendee on the web, you cannot share a camera or screen, but can view other members shared screens. It is still a great way to have a conference call in Teams, without all attendees being in Teams.

ii. A User With an email added as a Guest User

If the user has been added as a Guest user in Teams and has access to the Teams application on their device, then instead of clicking ‘Join on the web instead’, they would select ‘Open Microsoft Teams’ option and get a much richer experience of the meeting in Microsoft Teams as a Guest.

iii. Anyone with a Phone

You are able to have dial-in conference options so people can join your meetings in Microsoft Teams from almost any device, anywhere. You need to have Audio Conferencing with this which comes with Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription or available on a pay-per-minute basis as an add-on to Office 365 E1 or E3 subscription. Where the Audio Conferencing is enabled users will automatically see the dial in options for Microsoft Teams meetings that are created.

Take a look at these two blog posts for some further info:

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2. Scheduling meetings from within Teams

This one is closely related to number 1; however, the simple features are always the best, in my opinion, so I figured it was worth a separate section.

You can schedule meetings from within Teams. From within a team or channel, you can click the small camera icon to meet now or using the same icon you can also choose to schedule a meeting as you would in Outlook.

You can also see your Calendar and meetings within teams by clicking the meetings icon on the left-hand panel. When scheduling from within Teams, you get this window:

It has the option to add the Teams channel, or it will Show the Teams channel you triggered the meeting from. You can use the scheduling assistant as you can in Outlook and the ability to select the people you would like to invite from your organisation. Once scheduled, the result is a calendar invite in Outlook with the relevant Teams link in it to click and join the meeting when the time comes. This diary entry will also display in Teams when you click on the Calendar icon from the Teams left-hand panel.

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3. Guests – The other stuff they can do

The above meeting functionality shows that there are various features you or your guest can make use of in your Teams, providing some great ways of working with people outside of your organisation. Well, it doesn’t stop there. Guests can participate in channels, conversations, chats, and meetings; they can share files in channels, add new channels, and use the Wiki, which provides some fantastic collaboration opportunities. This Microsoft Documentation page gives a good summary of Guest versus Team member capabilities.

Note: Guest access is available on the desktop, web, iOS, and Android apps.

All a user needs to be a Guest is an email address. Once you have this, adding a guest can be done by a Team owner and is almost too simple!

Click on the three dots ‘…’ next to the team you want to add them to, be sure it’s the correct one. As I said above, it is almost too simple, so you could easily add someone to the wrong team and get into all sorts of trouble. Then in the window that pops up, just enter the email and click add. You can add more than one at a time in the same window.

What can a guest do?

This post from the Microsoft support site best describes the different capabilities of Team Owner, Member, and Guest. Every member of Teams has a role, and each one has different permissions.

Team owners manage certain settings for the team. They add and remove members, add guests, change team settings, and handle administrative tasks. There can be multiple owners in a team.

Members are the people in the team. They talk with other team members in conversations. They can view and usually upload and change files. They also do the usual sorts of collaboration that the team owners have permitted.

Guests are people from outside of your organization that a team owner invites, such as partners or consultants, to join the team. Guests have fewer capabilities than team members or team owners, but there’s still a lot they can do.

This table gives a great summary of the capabilities of each role via the desktop:

And on Mobile:

You can also manage guest permissions via the ‘Manage Team’ option, again by clicking on the three dots ‘…’ next to the team.

In this menu, you can see your members, add and delete members, manage channels, manage settings, and manage Apps. With a mix of the Guest permission and the other settings, you can choose to set the team up to be fully interactive with all members and guests, or you can lock down to just the owner being able to post, which might be useful as an announcement or information channel.

All in all, the functionality and Collaboration that Guest access enables for users and organizations is fantastic!

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4. Apps and Actions from the Command Box

The search bar at the top is hiding more than just search functionality, it has some great ‘shortcut’ app and command options, some of which are really useful… A great shortcut key to get to the bar is CTRL+E. 

All you have to do to see what’s on offer is type ‘/’ for the commands that work standalone or ‘@’ to see the Apps commands, give it a go.

Once installed, the apps can be accessed by clicking on the ‘…’ at the bottom of the conversation window. This allows you to share the search result, or item from the relevant app in the conversation, a great way to interact with Apps and your teams.

So back to the Command Bar, the shortcuts in here can be useful, here are just a few of my favourites:

  • /whatsnew– This has to be the most useful one given the speed that MS release changes these days. This takes you to the Release notes tab in the T-Bot channel. Worth a regular check.
  • @Wikipedia– Allows you to do a Wikipedia search. Returns a summary that you can click on to go to the full Wikipedia page.
  • /goto– If you have a lot of teams or channels or spend a lot of time, as I do, in the Chat part of teams, then this is a good way to hop straight to your destination.
  • /unread – Helps in those busy times, and pulls up a list of all your unread items
  • /mentions – Gives a list of all your @Mentions. This will include direct tags or where a team you are in has been tagged.
  • /files– Shows your recent files and allows you to search and go to the file you want rather than having to click around your teams to find what you need.
  • /keys– This is a shortcut to show shortcuts. Nice quick reference for the MS Teams Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • /call β€“This allows you to type the first few letters of the person you want to call and select them to call. In big organisations, this could be very timesaving.
  • /help β€“ Pretty self-explanatory and straightforward. A really good quick way to ask a question of the Teams help via the T-Bot.
  • /saved– This takes you straight to your list of saved messages.

Other Useful Shortcut keys

  • Navigation of the Left navigation panel – Ctrl + 1+ 2 + 3– i.e. Ctrl + 1 = Activity feed; Ctrl +2 = Chat; Ctrl + 3 = Teams etc
  • An Emoji for every occasion – Type a colon β€œ:” immediately followed by a word  – to discover additional emojis (e.g. :disapointed or :frog)
  • Move your Teams around – Ctrl + Shift + up or down arrow Moves the Team you have selected up in the Teams Panel on the left hand side, up or down in your list of Teams.
  • What you really need! – CTRL + β€˜.’ – Ctrl and the Full stop key together probably should be first in this list, as it gives you all the shortcuts you can use.

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5. Spruce up your channels with images

If you want to give your channels a bit of an eye-catching makeover, then fear not, it’s easy! To achieve this, all you need to do is edit the channel name, copy a Unicode character, and paste it in.

To locate a relevant image, use a Unicode Character Finder resource. Then once you have found the image you want, copy the Unicode to the clipboard, edit the channel, paste the code in front of the channel name and save it.

This is an ideal tip if you want to bring more prominence to a particular channel.

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6. Chats and Conversations best bits

So we all know how chat works and can pretty much do it without thinking, but I figured it was worth putting together a list of basic and best bits for Chats and Conversations in Teams.

Chats – These are done via the Chat tab on the left-hand menu and are more traditional chats where you can have 1 to 1 or group chats probably best compared to a chat in domestic Skype.

Conversations – Whilst on the face of it very similar to chats, this gives some structure to your conversation, to allow better collaboration in a more focused way. The interface is very similar to chat however with some subtle differences worth mentioning, so below is an example of a couple of conversations with in a channel:

As you can see there can be several conversations going on at once, around specific subjects or documents, if used correctly this really helps keep track of conversations, here are some tips for conversations:

  • Reply – The ‘Reply’ option under each conversation should be used to add further points to that conversation.
  • New Conversation – The bottom chat entry is used to start a new chat, this is the one most commonly used incorrectly to reply to the conversation above.
  • Conversation on a Document – To start the conversation on an existing document, open the document in teams and then click ‘Start Conversation’ at the top. To start on a new document simply click the paperclip and upload the document, this will start the conversation and upload the document to the files tab at the same time.
  • Subject – When creating a conversation it is good to add a subject – By Clicking the ‘A’ icon you get more edit options. Adding the title helps keep focus and context to that conversation.
  • @mention – Also when starting a conversation or asking a specific question it’s good to use the @mention  functionality to either get the whole channels attention, by using the name of the channel, or a given team member name. The relevant people then get alerted to this new reply or conversation.
  • GIFs – In both chat and converation if it is enabled on your Microsoft Teams by the administrator you can brighten up everyones day and use the GIFs. Just click the GIF icon and have a look around, dont blame me if it distracts you from your work for a while.
  • Praise – A Great little option on the chat and conversation boxes is the small medal/badge icon that allows you to give open Praise to teams members that appears in the conversations feed. Good for Team Morale!
  • Meetings – I have already mentioned this earlier in the post, but worth a mention again – you can also click the camera icon here to ether start a meeting now or schedule one for the future.

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7. Save Messages or Bookmarks

This is a handy piece of functionality that allows you to save a particular message, or more accurately a position in a conversation or chat, just by clicking on the 3 dots ‘…’ menu next to the message:

Then you can recall all your saved messages by clicking on your profile picture top right and selecting ‘Saved’ or possibly quicker would be to type in the command bar /saved. This gives you a list of all your saved points and clicking on them takes you back to the point in the conversation you saved from.

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8. Navigation Buttons (< >)

The simple tips are the best!

When I first started using Teams, my impression was that it was great, but had some challenges in regards to multitasking. Every time I went from working in a tab in a given team to continue a chat, by clicking on the chat icon, and then to go back, I would always have to click all the way through back to where I was. I was missing something, and it was these navigation buttons:

Now when I have come from another channel because someone messages me or similar, I can easily click back, and also forward again to toggle. I’m finding this vastly improves my Teams Experience

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9. Tabs

A must for productivity and ease of access within your working group is taking advantage of the tabs within your Teams and Channels. They can be used to simply expose a website or file to be easily accessible, or to show more complex Apps to manage work and help with day to day activities.

All you need to do to add a tab is click the ‘+’ sign on the right-hand side of your Channel and then search for the thing you want to add in. The more popular Apps, are at the top with more available below:

There are too many to mention them all; however, here are some of the ways I have found tabs useful in Teams:

  • Simply Exposing Office documents or Websiteson a tab for quick reference – I have found this useful in many scenarios from quick access to templates through to tracking spreadsheets of various kinds. In fact, we recently placed the Collab365 Teams live show onto a tab in our Collab365 Teams based Community (so far with over 1800 Members in as Guests to our tenant). My recommendation would be that any File or Website that all team members reference daily is worth considering adding as a tab.
  • Task Management– Here at Collab365, we have used tabs to expose both Microsoft Planner and tools like Trello, depending on the audience involved – The quick access to tasks and scheduling is useful. There are more complex task and project management apps that you can use from the store.
  • OneNote– for those that love OneNote, you can create a OneNote tab and off you go using OneNote within your Channel.
  • Forms– Simply select ‘Forms’, and you can easily create a very powerful form/survey that can be managed in teams, and with a tweak of the share permissions, shared and filled in by anyone that has the link. The responses can be seen on the tab by the form owner and also stored in a spreadsheet in the files tab.
  • Expose any existing SharePoint Document Library– Just select the ‘SharePoint’ icon fill, in site URL, select the document library you want from the list, give the tab a name, and the library will be exposed in a Teams channel.

That is just a few of the tabs we have found useful, however, you only have to look at the number of Apps in the store to know there are going to be tools of all shapes and sizes, have a look around.

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10. Don’t put all your eggs in ‘General’

When you first start using Teams it is tempting to keep everything in the General channel of your team, adding tab after tab for each need you come across. Now in some circumstances with small teams this is fine however in most it will lead to confusion and making it hard to find stuff.

So here are some recommendations:

  • Think of the General channel as the landing page for your Team the hub for the high level interaction.
  • Then for each subject area or main function create a new Channel.
  • When adding a tab to General, always ask yourself would this work better as its own channel or within another channel.
  • The more tabs you add to General the less people will find them. So try the rule that when the number of tabs doesn’t fit on your standard working screen size ( different for everyone) start thinking about flipping the tabs to existing or new channels.

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11. How to publish an RSS feed post to Microsoft Teams as a Card (using Zapier)

For those that don’t know we at Collab365 run a β€œCommunity Team” on our Teams Tenant and one of the challenges we wanted to solve was adding the Collab365 Today posts to a channel and for them to look nice (as cards)….. Read More 

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12. Some useful Links

I just wanted to add some other useful resources that might help you with your quest to learn more about Teams:

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13. Translation of Teams Messages

You can now translate messages to your base language in Microsoft Teams on a message by message basis. In this example the original message is in French.

Simply click the ‘…’ and choose ‘Translate’

Et Voila – (Sorry couldn’t resist)

You can set it back to show the original language via the same menu. A great feature I think you will agree?

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14. All your Wiki’s in one place

If you are using the Wikis within teams then this is a fantastic feature to help with your productivity. Simply click on ‘…’ on the left hand menu and choose ‘Wiki’.

This will take you to the Wiki home page on your ‘Personal‘ Wiki tag, this is a great place for taking private notes.

Click on the ‘All‘ tab and it gives you a summary view of all the Wikis you are involved in, making it easy to navigate, consume and update them.

A real nice extra on the Personal Wiki is being able to add notes from anywhere using the top command box. Simply type ‘/wiki’ the press enter and you can then type your note, press enter again and your note will be added, press enter a 3rd time and it will take you to your Personal Wiki.

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15. Record your Teams meetings

You can record your Microsoft Teams meetings. The recording captures Audio, Video, and any screen sharing activities. The meeting is recorded in the cloud and saved to Stream , meaning you can manage, download, and share along with all your organisations other Video content.

At the most basic level this allows you to have a record of what was discussed either to go back to or share with team members that could not attend. However this can be used to easily create company or department announcements, management team updates, news items, demos, solutions to commons problems or any other communications you might use video for in your organisation.

So how do we do it?…well it couldnt be simplier, once in the meeting just click the ‘…’ and click ‘Start Recording’ like this:


Once clicked you will be told you are recording in a message at the top of the meeting. Once finished you simply click stop recording from the same menu.

The video is saved to Stream, however you will also see a link to it in the meeting chat window, and be emailed a link to it from Stream. Obviously as with all your Stream video content, it does take up space so you need to ensure this use of Stream is included in your storage planning.

Here are a couple of links to help explain further and give other prerequisites and considerations:

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16. View and Edit Microsoft Visio collaboratively in Teams

If there was ever a tool that got the best productivity and results when worked on collaboratively it is Microsoft Visio…Well now you can do this with your team from within Teams…how cool is that?

Once the file is uploaded into a channel, you and your colleagues can alter the diagram from directly inside Teams, whilst also discussing the finer points in the conversation window, and tweaking as you go. A great way to get input and agreement from all stakeholders as you go, saving everyone time and getting a better quality end result.

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17. Zoom in and out just like in your Browser!

You no doubt are used to zooming in and out on your browser many times. Did you know you can do exactly the same in the Teams desktop client?

All you need to do is press ‘CTRL+’ to zoom in and ‘CTRL-‘ to zoom out.

For more details on those take a look at this page – Zoom in and out of Teams

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18. Microsoft Immersive reader for Teams messages

This functionality has been around in other Microsoft Tech for a little while and is predominantly a tool in the Microsoft Education space, that is aimed at schools, colleges and teaches billed as a learning and accessibility tool. However it can of course be useful to a much wider audience than just schools, especially now that it is available in Microsoft teams. So how do you use it and what can it do?

Firstly to access on a given message you use the 3 dots ‘…’ and select it from the drop down

It can read the text aloud, at different speeds. It can show in larger font size with different colours and spacing. It can show syllables, verbs, nouns, adjectives, and sub-clauses all in different colours and even with lables.

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19. Something to hide?… Use Background Effects

If you’ve got something you don’t want to share in the background, then it’s pretty easy to blur it out or add a background effect in a Teams video call/meeting.

This is handy functionality if you work in a busy office and have confidential information on your walls. It’s also helpful if you work from home and have the risk of family life crossing over to work-life in the background of your video calls.

To activate Background Blur during meetings, just click on the more actions  ‘…’ three dots on the call menu and select ‘Background effects’.

EXTRA TIP: If your device supports it, click CTRL+Shift+P when you’re on the call to toggle the blur.

It gets better though, with Background effects, there are a number of effects given as standard, from office backdrops to beaches:

And to top it off you can add your own background effects just by clicking the ‘Add New’ option and the top and upload any of your photos. A nice way to brighten up meetings and cover up your settings

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That’s all folks, I hope you found this useful and don’t forget if you think of any other must share tips please add them to the comments and we will add the best ones to the blog post crediting the author.

BEFORE YOU GO: Makes sure you save your place at GlobalCon4 Microsoft 365 Virtual Summit. We’re currently offering all of these free registration bonuses to help get you trained (sent via email):

🎁 Microsoft Teams Tips Ebook (70 pages)
🎁 7x Beginner Session Recordings for (includes “Introduction To Teams”
🎁 Teams Training Centre Tab (Installs straight into Teams).
🎁 Power Apps Beginners Ebook (65 pages)
🎁 Power Automate Beginners Ebook (98 pages)

<< Register on GlobalCon4 >>

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About the author 

Fraser Beadle

I work in Collab365 as Product and Operations manager. My focus is on Community Sponsorship, our Collab365 Workshops, and our new 365ers platform where members will be able to learn together.

Leave a Reply

  1. Answering my own question: if you have the Teams Desktop client installed, Outlook will see an add-in for Teams, which will automatically be enabled. If you don’t have the desktop client installed, you won’t be able to see the ribbon icon.

  2. Great article really useful. Only 1 aspect i couldn’t replicate and that was collaboration on a Visio doc, for me the online view does not allow you to edit, you need to export into client, mapping back changes when you exit rater than in real-time.

  3. I’m curious how you would use Teams as a knowledge base tool, given that its Wiki isn’t searchable?

    I am designing current best practice in an Engineering org that has adopted Teams, for better or worse. I read someone’s idea a while back for a workaround to NOT use the Wiki, but instead to consolidate all of a Team’s Wikis into a channel therein called “Wiki”, and use subject headers, markup, and edit capability to author your now-searchable content in every top post in the channel. I’m inclined to use this approach, or perhaps use a OneNote tab, instead of proliferating content in such dark corners as Teams Wikis.

    Do you have thoughts on this approach, or have any other suggestions for workarounds _using Teams today_? Thanks for your time.

    1. Use OneNote instead. Wiki also doesn’t support real-time collaboration and version history is not easily accessible (have to go behind the seens and restore html pages).

  4. This is a great article. I point people to it all the time. Might consider updating it to reflect some of the updates that have recently been pushed by MS. Just for example, you can have virtual background now and not just a blurred background…

  5. Good article but I’m wondering how you can accomplish Item 5:
    5. Spruce up your channels with images
    To achieve this, all you need to do is edit the channel name, copy a Unicode character, and paste it in.

    I just can’t reproduce this. For instance 🌈 cannot be copied (Channel name doesn’t allow special characters, Decimals aren’t allowed either).
    How does it work?

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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