15 Tips To Improve Your Microsoft Teams End User Experience
If you’re a Teams administrator, champion, or power user, part of your role is likely to help improve the Microsoft Teams end user experience.
Heck, even if you’re a friendly person who wants people to use their tools more productively, you’ll want to do this.
In this post, we run through some key tools and features to improve the Microsoft Teams end user experience:
- Start with an adoption plan
- Personal customizations available in Microsoft Teams
- Best practices for Teams notifications
- When to use group chats vs channels
- Benefits of message threads
- What you can do with the Teams mobile app
- Message interoperability
- Video interoperability
- Tips for joining Microsoft Teams meetings
- Tips for hosting Microsoft Teams meetings
- Using live events
- Microsoft Teams broadcasts
- How to use Teams background blur
- Using a Teams virtual background
- How to add integrations
1 – Start with an adoption plan
Creating an adoption plan for users is very different than creating an adoption plan for the entire organization.
Start with identifying why you want to use Microsoft Teams. Then communicate the plan, route to adoption, and benefits to your stakeholders. In turn, they must feed this information down to their own users.
As you progress through your rollout, keep all stakeholders informed with regular updates. If everyone knows what is happening (and when), it won’t be as much of a surprise.
Along the journey, plenty of people will ask for technical, learning, and adoption materials.
You can, of course, create your own based on in-house nuances. There are lots of existing Microsoft materials available too.
Make sure you include training materials like Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways, Instructor-led Microsoft Teams End User Experience Training, and webinars led by Azure engineers for support tickets training.
You’ll also need to communicate how you want end users to raise tickets when something goes wrong. The last thing you need is a clogged inbox once you implement Teams.
If you want tickets to be raised via a centralized portal, you can make use of Azure services. Explore the support plans first, however.
2 – Personal customizations available in Microsoft Teams
Once your team is comfortable with using Teams on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to add a personal touch.
For example, there are loads of Microsoft Teams accessibility features waiting to be discovered. But they will remain unknown unless you inform your users about them.
Accessibility features include:
- Chat translation: If your colleagues’ first language is different from yours, then this is a useful tool. Inline message translation helps everyone be themselves and still communicate efficiently.
- Voice messages: Some long messages are best relayed with voice messages since the mannerisms may help with context and tone. Also, a writer with arthritis or carpal tunnel will also find this tool useful as they can type less. Simply hold the record icon, speak into the microphone, and let go when you’re done recording.
- Turn on TTY mode: This is another feature that will help people who are speech-impaired or hard-of-hearing. To turn on Teletypewriter (TTY) follow this directory after you click on your profile picture – Settings > Calls.
- Live captions: Get real-time subtitle-style captions in Teams meetings.
Record them for later use as well.
First, make sure that Stream is covered by your Microsoft 365 license.
Turn on the Live Captions recording when you log in to Stream. Select your video and click on the three dots to open the options menu.
Tick the “Autogenerate a caption file” box.
- Dark mode: This feature was introduced to Teams in 2018, and is useful for helping reduce eye strain and maintain your focus.
Click the three dots button and open Settings. Immediately under General, you can see the three choices of Default, Dark, and High Contrast lighting systems.
Another crucial part of customization in Teams is the type and frequency of notifications you receive.
Frequency? That’s right!
While nothing can be done about the number of messages people send you (though more on that later), you can customize when and how you receive notifications.
3 – Best practices for Teams notifications
You may be worried about notifications if you manage several teams and channels on your Teams account.
Or maybe you’re just a member of these teams and channels.
Notification overload and notification fatigue are real things that can influence your output if not managed properly.
So, how can you manage Teams notifications?
- Create custom notification settings: This includes turning off catchup notifications and tweaking your regular notifications to only include specific things like personal @mentions, replies to conversations that I started, etc.
- Leave projects that no longer need your involvement: There are probably teams or channels that aren’t relevant to you or the work that you do. Clear up the clutter by leaving these projects.
4 – When to use group chats vs channels
Once you have chosen the channels you need to be in and sorted your notification strategy, it’s important to know when it’s best to use group chats and when channels are more appropriate.
For users who are new to collaboration platforms like Teams, you must remember this is a completely new experience. Microsoft Teams is not an instant messenger-style platform like they may be accustomed to using.
It can be that simple if you want, but it can be so much more for your teams’ collaboration.
Group chats are an extension of one-on-one conversations to involve other colleagues. Here, all members of the Teams group can share messages, GIFs, emojis, stickers, and even arrange meetings.
If you need to take collaboration a bit further, however, you can keep it all organized in Teams channels. Two important features distinguish Teams channels from group chats:
- Message threads: Conversations in group chats can become messy and lose their substance overtime. In channels however, team members can keep track of messages in the context that they’re posted in.
This is possible through Teams message threads that condense conversations into a single chat block. You can see all the replies, and you can @ mention someone under the threaded reply.
2. Files: Unlike regular group chats, channels have a files tab. This is great for document collaboration and every file you upload is synced with SharePoint as well.
5 – Benefits of message threads
One of the biggest benefits of using channels over group chats is that you get access to message threads.
It’s all about ease of collaboration right?
After all, that’s why a good adoption plan and getting rid of notification overload are at the top of our agenda.
But even while you work, message threads are also a great tool for optimizing the Microsoft Teams end user experience.
Threads give your message context, showing who you’re talking to.
High-level benefits include:
- Threads preserve meaningful context and organize conversations.
- A thread encourages open discussion about topics, without distracting others.
- Threads give you a way to get more clarity, without starting a new DM.
- Your threads make it easier to track information by looking at specific conversations.
- Threads keep announcement channels clear of extra clutter.
- Threads are sticky. When you share a message, threaded replies share too.
More specifically, with message threads, you get asynchronicity in your Teams messaging.
What this means is that messages in the channel don’t have to be synchronized – you don’t have to be replying to all messages in real-time.
Even if your notifications are completely turned off, you can return to a conversation thread to see new updates. In a group chat, you’d normally be worried that you might lose track of what happens when you’re not in the group.
This means you will have more time to focus on other things and still be in the loop.
6 – What you can do with the Teams mobile app
Lots of people will be using Teams on the move. Rather than having to pull out their laptop each time they need to chat with someone in the office or at home, they can use the Teams mobile app instead.
Some of your users may end up using the mobile app because they prefer the message threading experience in the mobile UI.
Here are some other neat features of the Teams mobile app:
- Quick swipe gestures: Clear your activity feed of notifications when you mark messages as read or unread with just the swipe of your finger.
- Quiet hours & quiet days: Notate specific hours and days when you will be taking PTO. This will turn off notifications for you during those times.
Click your profile, and then Notifications. Under the Blocked Notifications segment, click During Quiet Time.
Here you’ll have the option to toggle Quiet Hours and Quiet Days off and on, as well as customize further settings on your own.
- Integrated Office Lens: The ease of taking pictures is already a cool feature.
However, Office Lens is integrated into the Teams mobile app so that when you capture a whiteboard or document, it automatically recognizes it.
Whatever medium it is, Office Lens will automatically optimize the picture, which you can with text or drawings.
- Reorder the bottom bar: You can increase accessibility to your most visited tabs on teams by reordering the navigation bar.
Click the three dots icon below and you’ll see the option to drag the Edit Navigation window into full display. You can then reorder the tabs to better meet your preferences.
- Easy mobile to laptop transition: Switch your conference calls and notifications between your laptop and mobile device in real time.
If you need to be on the move, but you’re on a conference call, you can switch to your mobile device, without interrupting the meeting.
You can also set notifications for your mobile device to shut off once you log in to Teams on your desktop, which decreases notification overload.
7 – Message interoperability
When you only talk to people in Teams, there’s no need for another app.
But what happens when you work with a contractor who uses Slack? Or a client who insists on using Webex?
The most common scenario? You download their app to keep them happy.
But what does that mean for you? Constant switching between apps to manage your external contacts.
Message interoperability is the process of joining these apps together so you can send a message from Microsoft Teams to your external contact on either Slack or Webex.
Interoperability improves internal communications and enables genuine intercompany collaboration.
If your team works with people who use collaboration software that is different from yours, interoperability will save you the headache of having to manage each separate platform, including notifications and integrations.
You simply communicate with them, without leaving where you are. This frees up time that you would’ve wasted managing other platforms.
More focus means better communication and better productivity for your team.
Interoperability between today’s most popular collaboration platforms is easy with Mio. If Mio is installed on your Teams tenant, you can message any member of your team and enjoy the features and integrations you’re already used to.
Install Mio on Microsoft Teams
Mio is simple to set up:
- Sync all the chat apps your teams use by creating a Mio Hub
- Team members in your Mio Hub can immediately chat in DMs or groups with members on other platforms
- File sharing, threaded messages, reactions, and the ability to edit and delete messages are all supported
- New channels or spaces an employee is invited to will be synced in the primary chat platform they prefer to use.
To find out more about Mio’s chat platform interoperability, visit m.io.
8- Video interoperability
Video calls between team members are just as essential as messaging in team collaboration.
But like messaging platforms, you’ll often find clients or even other departments who aren’t using the same video platform as you.
This means finding solutions for meetings when people are using Webex, Zoom, Skype, and all the other video platforms out there.
Enter Microsoft Cloud Video Interop (CVI).
CVI is a third-party solution from Microsoft that solves the problem of video interoperability for you and outside third parties using other collaboration platforms.
With CVI, your third-party team members can tap into the native Microsoft Teams end user experience of audio, video, and content sharing through certified interop solutions and video devices.
Certified Microsoft CVI partners include:
How to deploy a cloud video Interop
There are five steps involved in deploying Cloud Video Interop so that you can add non-Microsoft Teams users into a Teams meeting:
- Plan: Identify video devices and select an appropriate Microsoft CVI certified partner to support a collaborative team member’s device. The team member involved in this video interop meeting will need a Microsoft license for you to schedule interop meetings. Make sure that both you and this other person confirm the licensing requirements of the CVI partner prior to selecting that partner for the deployment.
- Configure: Anyone not using Microsoft Teams will need deployment documents from the certified CVI partners that they’ve chosen. These documents contain configuration changes for their networks, as well as other settings that may need to be updated.
- Provision: You will receive the licenses that your colleague’s CVI provides.
- Schedule: Once enabled, you can schedule interop meetings using Teams, or the Teams Meeting Add-in for Outlook.
- Join: Your third-party team members can now join using the method provided by their Microsoft certified CVI partner.
9 – Tips for joining Microsoft Teams meetings
When joining Microsoft Teams meetings, consider the following:
- You can join a meeting by clicking the camera icon, filling in the meeting’s name, clicking the Meet Now option, and adding people to the meeting.
- You can also join a meeting that’s already started by clicking on the same camera icon and clicking Jump In.
- Mute your audio with the microphone icon when you’re not talking or there’s lots of background noise.
- Share your screen by clicking the screen icon.
- You can record your screen when you click the ellipses icon, and select the Start recording option.
10 – Tips for hosting Microsoft Teams meetings
How to add members to Microsoft Teams meetings
There are various ways that you can add people to a meeting in Microsoft Teams.
For example, if you have Anonymous Join enabled, then anyone can join the conference as an anonymous user by clicking on the meeting link invitation.
You can turn on Anonymous Join by visiting the Microsoft Teams admin center, clicking on Meetings > Meeting Settings > Participants:
If you want more control over who attends your meetings, toggle this switch off, and send invitations to individual team members instead.
In addition to inviting everyone in a channel or conversation to a meeting all at once, you can also send an email and phone number invitations too.
Before a meeting, you can use the Invite People box when you start your meeting to search for people and invite whomever you like.
When you’re in a meeting, click on the Show participants icon your meeting controls to see who’s there, who’s been invited, and who isn’t there yet.
To ask someone to join a meeting, you can click on More Options (…), then Ask to Join.
Alternatively, type a person’s name into the search box (if they’re in your organization), or their phone number or email address.
In-meeting controls and what you can do with Microsoft Teams
As an admin, you’ll be able to use your Meetings settings to control plenty of factors, including whether anonymous people can join teams.
- Allow audio conferencing: With an audio conferencing license, people will be able to dial-in to your meetings from over 90 different countries.
- Set up a virtual lobby: Any attendees not in your organization will appear in a virtual lobby by default with Microsoft Teams. This allows you to choose who should have access to the conversation.
- Mute attendees: In large meetings, you can click on the Mute option on an attendee’s profile to prevent them from disturbing other people in your group. You can also unmute them later, or mute everyone but yourself.
- Screen or application sharing: Click on the screen icon on your Microsoft Teams meeting to share your screen. If you only want to share a specific window or application, you can choose exactly how much to share.
- Troubleshoot interactively: Teams will automatically tell you if it detects any problems. For instance, you’ll get a notification if you’re trying to speak to your team when you’re muted.
- Access call analytics and recordings: Clicking the … More Options button on Teams will allow you to record a meeting, which can be sent straight to your inbox after the discussion is finished. Microsoft offers a range of analytics to help troubleshoot potential issues with your meetings too.
11- Using live events
Live events is a specific feature within Teams for ….live events! Live events are similar to meetings, however, they allow you to broadcast to an online audience outside of your team members, and in real-time.
In addition to Microsoft Teams, you can also host live events with Stream and Yammer.
These types of live events have the potential to replace the functionalities of Skype Meeting Broadcasts, which you may be familiar with.
They involve one-to-many communications between the host and the audience. The audience’s participation involves viewing, interacting via moderated Q&As or Yammer conversation, and watching recorded events.
If you’re organizing or producing, you’ll need certain Microsoft licenses. Attending a Live event and downloading the recordings does not require a license, however.
Setting up a live events policy
Live events policies help manage the features that are accessible within a live event. Here’s how you can set up Teams for live events:
- From your Teams admin center, follow this directory, Meetings > live events policies.
- You have two options next:
- Edit the default policy by clicking Global (Org-wide default).
- Create a custom live event policy by selecting Add, then clicking Edit.
Here are the settings you can change to fit the needs of your organization. You can now set your preferences for scheduling, recordings, and transcriptions for attendees.
12 – Microsoft Teams Broadcasts
Live event broadcasts have to be of the highest quality for attendees, which is the most critical aspect of this Teams feature.
The live events broadcasts are propagated by the following:
- Azure Media Services: Azure Media Services is responsible for secure and enhanced accessibility, distribution, and scalability of your streaming services to your local and worldwide audiences.
- Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN): Azure CDN renders your content to viewers once it goes live. With Azure CDN, your high-quality streams are broadcast to worldwide audiences with no buffering.
- Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN): This tool broadcasts your video content from the internet throughout your enterprise, while still maintaining network performance. Some certified eCDN partners for live events broadcasts on Microsoft Teams, Stream, and Yammer include Hive, Kollective, Ramp, and Riverbed.
13 – How to use Teams background blur
During any kind of Teams meeting, you may be working somewhere that you don’t want to show off to the world.
One solution is to use the background blur option within Teams.
To do this, simply:
- Click on your audio and video settings screen when you join a meeting
- Choose the ellipses “…” for more options
- Tap on Blur my background.
If you’re not a fan of a blurred background, you can opt for a full background replacement instead.
14 – Using a Teams virtual background
If you’re looking for something a little more exciting than a blur, you can customize your video with virtual backgrounds.
Microsoft introduced virtual backgrounds for Teams in April 2020, so that users can replace their real meeting background with a “fresh and bright home office.”
To find virtual backgrounds:
- Launch a video chat and tap the ellipses “…”
- Click Show background effects.
- This will bring up a sidebar with alternative background options.
- Select your choice.
For something more advanced, and to stand out in front of your boss, colleagues, or clients, you can opt for a third-party background.
To download a selection of premium Microsoft Teams backgrounds, choose from 300 high-quality images here.
15 – How to add integrations in Teams
Microsoft Teams has over 600 apps listed in its App Store, which include integrations as bots, connectors, and messaging tools.
The App Store is technically the first integration since you can directly access the other integrations easily from the Teams app.
You can add an integration through different terminals of the app:
- From the sidebar: On the left side of the screen is the sidebar, and at the bottom is the Add icon.
Once you click it, you’ll see the option to Add the app.
- Add apps to a tab: Click the + in a chat, group, or channel to add an app to your tabs.
Select the app you want from the apps window.
Each app may have different next steps based on where you want to use the app (in messages, channels, meetings, etc.)
This example shows just how easy integration can make collaboration be on Microsoft Teams.
However, adding 600 integrations is to undo all the fine work we’ve done so far to improve your user experience on Teams.
Instead, select from our cherry-picked the best Microsoft Teams integrations that can improve the Microsoft Teams end user experience.