We all love a new bit of tech here at Blackstar. Fortunately for us, Microsoft releases new Teams features more often than Netflix releases true crime docuseries. After spending some time playing with the latest Teams additions, we’ve put a list together that makes our collaborating lives so much easier. Here it is:
1. Reply to Specific Chat Messages
While this feature has been available on the mobile Teams app for ages, replying to specific chat messages has been strangely absent on the desktop and web apps – so much so that it has become the most-requested feature from Teams users. Now you can add all-important context to the messages you’re sending by being able to reply to chat messages on the desktop app (Microsoft assures us all this is coming soon the web-based version).
To reply to a message, click on the ellipsis (…) and choose Reply. Much like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc, the text of the message you’re replying to will be quoted before your response. Specific reply is available in one-to-one, group and meeting chats (not yet available for channel posts or replies).
2. Click to Dial
For those who use Teams as their primary phone and can dial external numbers via Direct Routing or Calling Plans, Click-to-Dial from within a browser will save you time and ensure you’re always dialing the right digits in the right order.
To use Click-to-Dial, ensure Microsoft Teams is set as the default app for the SIP, SIPS, and TEL protocols in your system settings. If this makes absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, have a read of our Click-to-Dial how-to guide here. Once this is in place, when you see a number in a browser that you want to call, just click on it. Teams will open and away you go.
3. PowerPoint Live
As a trainer, this is the feature that has me most excited. I work with two screens. When I’m sharing PowerPoint on a Teams call, I’ll have the attendees on video on one screen, and the PowerPoint I’m sharing on the second. But I lose my PowerPoint notes and find myself winging it based on what’s on the slide I’m sharing.
PowerPoint Live fixes this issue – its Presenter View combines everything on one screen – you can see your attendees, your notes and your upcoming slides. It’s easy to start a PowerPoint Live. From your meeting, click the share button, and browse to your .ppt file.
PowerPoint Live uses less bandwidth than traditional screen sharing which means you can encourage your attendees to turn their cameras on. When everyone has their video on, collaboration is even easier, as everyone can see visual cues and body language that are lost when video is off.
4. Presenter Modes
This one is just downright cool – as well as providing a better experience for meeting participants. Using one of the three presenter modes while sharing content – Standout, Side-by-side or Reporter – let participants view you along with the content you’re sharing. This helps them to focus and allows you to be a more engaging part of the presentation.
Choose your presenter mode when you click the share button. The presenter toolbar at the top of your screen lets you change presenter mode on the fly, give control to another person, and include computer sound.
These presenter modes are only available for the desktop version of Teams at the moment. Anyone attending using a mobile or web app will just see the shared content.
5. Pin Chat Message
Have you ever said or seen something important in a chat only for it to go out of mind when it went out of sight? Now you can drive awareness of that important content by pinning a single message to the top of a chat.
Available for one-to-one, group and meeting chats, any participant (including guests or external participants) can pin or unpin a message. This feature is brilliant for reminding chat participants of important stuff, whether it’s the fact and NDA is in place for a certain piece of work, or if there’s pizza in the kitchen. To pin a message, simply click the ellipsis button on the message and select Pin.
Pinning works slightly differently with channel messages. Any number of channel messages can be pinned – they are indicated as pinned with the pin icon. Instead of appearing at the top of the channel though, the most recent two pinned messages show in the channel’s info pane.
Don’t forget, everyone is equal in a chat so anyone can pin or unpin a message. Teams doesn’t keep a record of who does what, so it’s anyone’s guess if an important message disappears.
ROADMAP THINGS TO GET EXCITED ABOUT
We do our best to regularly check the Teams roadmap – these are the features that are coming soon that we can’t wait to try.
- Video Filters – for those who prefer an Insta-glam look, filters will allow you to adjust lighting levels and smooth out facial features prior to starting your video. Aiming for GA November 2021.
- Ctrl+Space to Speak – Similar to the Zoom feature, participants will be able to temporarily unmute their microphone by holding down Ctrl+Space while they speak. This one is roadmapped for December 2021 release.
- Content from Camera – If you’ve ever needed to share a physical thing as opposed to something on your screen, this feature will make that happen. You’ll need a laptop or PC with an inbuilt or USB camera but once that’s in place, you’ll be able to share that feed. Currently in the roll-out phase, so keep your eye out for it.
- Music on Hold for Consultative / Blind Transfer – No longer will your callers think they’ve been cut off when you’re trying to put them through elsewhere. Instead of silence while waiting for their call to be transferred, music on hold will play, letting them know their call is still live. Again, this feature is currently in roll-out so it should be with you shortly.
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