Published by Barry Francis on the 18 of November 2019.

When I first looked at Microsoft Teams, I saw nothing more than a new Skype for business replacement. Both allowed for internal chatting, meeting calls and storing my conversations/messages.

However, based on my research and use of this product, my assumptions on Teams has changed quite dramatically. Lets look at all the features currently available.

Teams Basics

Limitations and specifications

Search

Guest Access

Chat

Group Chat

Saved/bookmark chat

Message features

Inline translation

Immersive reader

T-bot

Teams

Manage team settings

Creating new channels and adding new members

Leaving a team

Getting a link or team code

Send an email to a team’s channel

Video/Meeting

Call Options

Microsofts bigger’picture

Teams Basics

Limitations and specifications

Before you begin any Teams roll-out, you need to understand the limitations and specifications that are required within an implementation.

All of these are listed within Microsoft Teams website: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/limits-specifications-teams

Work through the list in terms of messaging, teams and channels, Meetings and calls and Storage!

The search box allows you to search any word within the following categories:

  • Messages (Keywords)
  • People (Persons name)
  • Files

You can also use this search box to do a quick chat. To do this, begin with an @mention and then type in the rest of the message.

To see a list of the commands available in the search box, enter a forward slash “/” into the search box.

Commands are shortcuts for performing common tasks within Teams. For example, typing /available will set your status to available.

Guest Access

If you are security conscious  and want to know what happens when a guest is added to your environment, here is the full run down:

  • There is no limit on the number of guests you can add outside of the limit on members per team (2,500)
  • A guest cannot access any Team via a Team code
  • Only Team admins and Global Admins can add guests to a team
  • A guest, when added to a public or private team, will need to sign in with a Microsoft Account to access that organizations team AND will not be able to search for any other team outside of the ones they have been added to. If you already have a Teams account, you will need to switch between organizations to view the new team you’ve been added to. Again, you will not see nor be able to search for any other public teams as a guest.
  • Guests will have the same permissions as other members within a team, meaning they will have access to all tabs, files and messages within that given team.

Chat

The main aspect of Teams is collaboration. Effective collaboration must include simple communication tools.

The chat aspect of Teams has this nailed done by introducing persistent chat. It was the one limitation with most chat-based tools is that conversations are often saved or archived into other folders that are not necessarily in the same contact page.

Let’s look at all the functionality currently available within Teams chat.

Group Chat

To initiate a new group chat window, select an existing chat with one of the contacts you wish to include in the group and click on the Add people button on the top right of the chat window.

Add in as many people as you want in the group chat and then select Add. This will create a new draft group chat with the names of all the members on the top of the chat window.

Should you need to give the group chat a name that is applicable to the purpose of the group, enter in a message and send it, once sent, a pencil icon will appear next to the members names. Select it and give it an appropriate name.

By giving the group chat a name, you’ll be able to include the name in your search to make it easier to find in the future.

Saved/bookmark chat

Should you ever need to highlight certain messages that you know you’ll need to reuse again or reference later, hover over the chat message and select the ellipsis button. In the list of options, you can Save this message.

Once saved, a small message will pop-up under your profile picture mentioning that it’s been saved.

To find all your saved messages, select your profile image and select the Saved button.

There you will find a list of all your saved messages.

Should you wish to un-save this message, select the ellipsis button by hovering over the message and choosing to Unsave this message.

Message features

Each chat window will have a set of features available under the message box.

The list is as follows:

  • Format

Format will allow you to format the message you are entering. For example, you can add a code snippet section which will treat the message as if it were being typed into a console. Other options include:

Insert Table

Link

Insert horizontal rule

Bulleted list

Numbered list

Add headings (1, 2, 3)

Italics

Bold

Highlight (in colour)

  • Set delivery options

There are only three types of messages you can send at the moment, these are:

Standard

Important (marked as important)

Urgent (recipients will be notified every 2 minutes for 20 minutes)

  • Attachments (from OneDrive or uploaded from your computer)
  • Emojis
  • Gifs
  • Stickers
  • Messaging extensions

Here you can choose to add additional apps you’re your list of features, including Bing news, stock market information, weather and Youtube.

Inline translation

Leading back to what I mentioned under the chat heading, simple communication ensures effective collaboration. Not understanding what someone is saying because they are messaging you in another language should not be a hindrance.

Note: to enable inline translation, use the following reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/inline-message-translation-teams

If enabled, simply hover over the message and choose Translate.

This will translate all the text within the message back into the language you are set to use. If you need to change your default language, select your profile image on the top right and select Settings. Under the General tab, locate Language and change the language settings there for both keyboard and app.

For a list of the available languages available for translation, check out the following documentation: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/translate-a-message-in-teams-d8926ce9-d6a6-47df-a416-f1adb62d3194

Immersive reader

If there are individuals who struggle with reading/learning difficulties or would prefer to have meeting notes read aloud, you can utilize the immersive reader feature through posts, chat messages and assignments.

To use immersive reader, hover over the post and select the ellipsis button. Then select the Immersive Reader button.

This will open up a reader window within the post/chat/assignment with the following options available:

  • Voice settings (at the bottom of the reader next to the play and pause button)

This will allow you to change the voice from female (default) to male or change the speed at which the reader plays.

  • Text preferences

Here you can change the text size, the spacing, font (limited to calibri, Sitka and Comic Sans) and themes.

  • Grammar options

Here you can highlight certain parts of speech, like highlighting nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. You can also enable syllables which help people pronounce each word.

  • Reading preferences

If you prefer line preferences, select a single line, triple or 5 line focusing. This will remove the clutter of the text and help you focus in on where you are in the reader.

You can also use Translate here to set the text to another language.

T-bot

As with most Microsoft tools, a help centre is always available. In Teams, its help centre is called “T-bot.”

To access this help centre, type “T-bot” into the search box and select the T-bot under the People tab.

There you can find helpful KB articles, video links and new updates to Microsoft Teams.

Teams

Teams is where you can interact with different members of your organization and outside members in one collaborative and focused area.

Teams allows you the ability to share documents, interact with guests and other members of the team and schedule meetings.

When creating a team, simply enter in a name and description to begin. Then select next to continue.

Teams, like channels, can be private, public or org-wide.

Private teams will be by invite only and not visible for anyone to join. Public is available for anyone to join by selecting Join Team on the team. Organization wide is automatically available in the team’s section and will automatically add you to it when created.

Manage team settings

When a team is created by yourself or you have been given owner permissions, you’ll be able to access the team settings from within the team.

To do this, open the team and click on the ellipsis button next to its name on the left. Then select the Manage Team button to access the team settings.

Here are the tabs available within the team’s settings:

  • Members

Under the members section you’ll see a list of the current owners, members and guests. Here you can set the role for each member, owner and guest as to their permissions within that team.

You can also add members and set their roles from within this tab.

  • Pending Requests

If there are any requests from members to join the team, they will show up here.

  • Channels

A list of active channels will show up here as well as deleted channels. Deleted channels will continue to show for up to 30 days after its deletion just in case you need to restore it. After 30 days, the channel will be removed permanently.

Like with the channel settings, you can update channel notifications, get the channel email address and link to the channels email address, as well as its channel settings.

  • Settings

You can set a team theme, member permissions, guest permissions, @mention settings, team codes for invitations, fun stuff in terms of allowing emojis, memes and gifs.

  • Analytics

A visual display on the summary of users, SharePoint file size, role breakdown, active users and messages.

  • Apps

List of the current set of apps being used and the ability to add more apps.

Creating new channels and adding new members

To create new channels and add new members (guests included), open the team and click on the ellipsis button next to its name on the left. Then select the Add Channel button to add additional channels or select the Add Member button to add additional members and or guests.

When selecting adding a new channel, you simply need to give it a name and description, then decide a privacy setting: Private or Standard. If standard, all team members will be able to interact with that channel. If private, only members added to the channel will be able to view the channel and interact in it.

If you need to add a guest or internal member to the team, you can do so by choosing to add member. Begin to write out the members name, then choose from the list of name suggestions. Once selected, you can continue to add members to the list.

If you need to add a guest, write out the email address for the guest, once completed, you should see a suggestion to add that email address as a guest.

This will set a new member into the group that is external to your office 365. You can still determine the guests permissions as per the team settings.

If the suggestion to add a guest is not showing up, you’ll need to enable it in the Teams settings through the admin centre (reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/guest-access-checklist).

Once enabled, give it a few minutes to setup before trying again in Teams.

Leaving a team

If you ever need to leave a team, you can do it via the same options available on above. Open the team and select the ellipsis button, then choose to leave the team.

Getting a link or team code

If you wish to invite a member to a team via a link or via a code, select the team ellipsis and select the Get link to a team.

You can then send the invite via Teams chat or email which the person can use to join the team.

Should you rather use the team code, you can do this by opening the teams settings (Manage Team) –> Settings –> Team code. Click on the generate button to generate a team code which you can pass on to other members to use when in the teams when either creating or joining a team is selected.

Send an email to a teams channel

This is quite a significant feature that’s been included into teams channels. When you click on the ellipsis button on a channel, you’ll have the ability to Get email address. Once you’ve copied the email address, you can paste it into any email To address in Outlook, Gmail and the like and send an email.

The email will show up in the channel with all the details of the email.

Emails will show up as a new message in the channel and can be viewed by either downloading the original email OR, if you open the Files tab on the channel, you can see that a new Email messages folder in SharePoint with all the emails set.

Video/Meeting

There are two ways to setup a team’s meeting. If you open up your calendar tab, on the top right of the calendar is two buttons; Meet now and New meeting.

If you choose to meet now, you can give the meeting a name and then join it immediately.

You can invite people to the meeting by entering their name into the invite box (they will still need to accept the invitation).

You can also send through a Teams Meeting link by selecting the Copy join info button and sending the link via chat or email.

If you select the New Meeting button, you can schedule a meeting or live event at a future event.

Call options

Within a voice or video call, there is a set of features that show near the bottom of the window. The following options are available to you as the organizer:

  • Turn on or turn off your video
  • Turn on or turn off your microphone
  • Share Tray
    • Share a specific desktop/window (can be just a document as a reference, not necessarily just a screen)
    • Whiteboard

The Whiteboard is a free-hand screen that allows all attendees the ability to draw and erase free-hand drawings/writings.

  • More actions
    • Show device settings

Shows the devices being used for your speakers, microphone and camera.

  • Show meeting notes

Meeting notes utilizes OneNote in taking notes. All notes taken will be stored in a message.

  • Show meeting details

Shows the details of the meeting

  • Enter full screen
  • Show keypad

Shows a number pad

  • Start recording

This recording will be captured into Streams and be available in the channel or chat if initiated from chat once stopped)

  • Turn off incoming video.
  • Show/Hide conversation

Any conversations within this conversation pane will be saved to the meeting within the message.

  • Show/Hide participants

Here you can add additional participants to the meeting.

If you’ve recorded your session, the meeting will be recorded into Streams and will notify the organizer via email when the Stream has finished.

Once done, simply hover over the video and choose to open it in Stream, share it with members within your organization or Get a link and send it to someone (this will require a person to have a Microsoft / office 365 account to access it, the account must be from your organization and will need to have the video shared from Streams first before sending the link).

If you type in a guest account or external email address, the video will not be allowed to be shared.

If you want to download the video and share it through that medium, you can select the ellipsis button under the videos name and choose Update video details.

There at the top right of the details pane is the download video (and delete video if required).

Here you can choose additional people to share the video with, update the name and description of the video and allow for comments and subtitles.

If you want an automatic transcript set for the video, ensure that the following are set here:

  • Video Language set to a language
  • Under Captions; Auto-generate a caption file is set to Yes

Once set, simply click the Apply button at the top of the settings and give some time to the transcript to generate. Once done, select the View Settings button and choose to show the transcript.

Once shown, the transcript will show up next to the video with time markers that can be selected to take you to that point in the video.

Microsoft’s bigger picture

With Teams having the ability to tap into the common platform and all its products, means that Teams has the ability to become the central point of interaction with all aspects of a business.

Clicking on the Plus button will showcase all the extensive connections Teams has on offer.

There you can see that you can link a myriad of Microsoft products like Microsoft Forms, Power BI, Wiki and SharePoint.

If you have existing Microsoft Forms, you can select Forms and add in the existing form(s).

PowerApps can be included to create a new landscape of internal processes and employee self-service modules.

Power BI reports can also be introduced to give you an in-depth analytic view into your current data set.

What’s even more impressive is that you can use Power Automate to pull from new messages and link all common data products through Teams. For example, when a support email is created in a certain channel, push an email notification to a certain Dynamics 365 team’s mailbox.

Alternatively, when a trigger happens from one of the other common data products, you can post messages to Team channels.

In all these instances, Teams showcase that there is massive potential in running your entire business from a single Microsoft tool without having to have multiple applications open at the same time.