Sixty-seven percent of businesses expect work-from-home (WFH) policies to stay in place even after the pandemic is over. This means that cloud technologies and video conferencing are going to remain an important part of a company’s remote digital tools.
Over the pandemic, one online meeting application that became particularly popular was Microsoft Teams. In just 12 months, it gained over 100 million active users, going from 44 million in April 2020 to 145 million in April 2021.
To maintain its trajectory, Microsoft has continued making the platform more valuable so it will become the clear choice for those looking for video conferencing capabilities. The ability to interact virtually has become a necessity during the pandemic. But it’s taken a while for platforms to address issues that arose with the surge of new users.
After video meetings went from a “sometimes” activity to an “all the time” necessity, security, and functionality issues started to become apparent. One being that most video meeting tools weren’t set up to also be great webinar platforms, which led to companies having to purchase both to facilitate different types of online activities.
Another problem was the lack of control of how a presentation appeared to attendees and the limitations of being able to access things like presentation notes while sharing the screen.
In just the last few weeks, several new features were unleashed by Microsoft for Teams that address those issues and others to improve the online video meeting experience.
New Features in Teams That Might Make This Your New Online Conferencing App
Microsoft Teams was just one of many online meeting tools that lacked the features needed to conduct webinars, such as registration and automated confirmation email.
That’s now changed, and users can use Teams to conduct webinars and even create their own tailored registration page.
Teams images are from Microsoft
After registering, Teams will send the attendees a confirmation and meeting link. The feature also includes webinar attendee reporting, just like the webinar-only platforms have.
Video meetings can be challenging for a presenter. The person talking and sharing their screen is often the only one with their mic enabled. Other attendees usually mute their mics to reduce background noise.
But this can make for a one-sided meeting, which seems more like watching a video for viewers than a meeting they’re a part of.
For the presenter, the silence can make it hard for them to gauge audience attention and whether their pacing is on target.
Live Reactions provides a way for viewers to send feedback and engage in the meeting without the disruption of people talking over each other.
When Live Reactions is enabled, viewers can use emojis to answer a question from the presenter and give overall feedback about something they may like about a virtual presentation.
Emojis float up on the screen briefly and then disappear, allowing viewer interaction without throwing the presentation off track.
Another feature that Microsoft has added to Teams helps both presenters and attendees get more out of online meeting presentations.
For presenters, PowerPoint Live allows access to slide notes that those viewing the presentation can’t see. So, they can access what they need to without having to spend time writing notes offline.
For attendees, PowerPoint Live gives them the ability to access the slides in a presentation through a thumbnail. If they want to jump ahead or spend a little more time on a slide, they can do this individually without disrupting the meeting to ask the presenter to go back.
Another issue with presenting information during an online meeting has been the lack of control over how windows appear. A presenter’s video feed is usually in a small area next to everyone in the meeting, which can make it more difficult for them to connect with the audience.
Presenter Mode in Teams gives you three different ways to position the presenter’s video feed and shared screen. It also makes for a more professional look when presenting webinars or giving a presentation to a client virtually.
The three mode options are as follows.
Side-by-Side Mode: Both the shared content and video feed are next to each other on the screen.
Reporter Mode: The presenter’s video feed is larger, and the shared content is over their shoulder, similar to how you see it done on the news.
Standout Mode: In this mode, the shared content takes up the majority of the screen and the presenter’s video feed is layered over the top in the bottom corner.
Different people like to see the screen in different ways when they’re in a video meeting. Some people might like to see everyone’s video feeds at the same time as shared content, while others might prefer a more distraction-free mode.
The new View Switcher in Teams gives meeting participants more control over how their screen looks while on a Teams video call.
They have several options to choose from within a dropdown at the top-left. These include:
- Gallery view
- Large gallery view
- Together mode
- Gallery on top
- Focus view
More Together Mode Scenes
One of the coolest features Teams brought out last year was Together Mode. This is a view that puts everyone in the same scene, helping to bridge the distance of video conferencing.
The initial mode was somewhat like a baseball stadium, and not for everyone. Well, there are several new scenes to try out that make the Together Mode feature even more fun.
Get Help Exploring the Full Value of Your Digital Tools
Unbound Digital can help your Johnson City, Tennessee business unlock the full value of the digital tools you use and guide your company through the new virtual workforce trend.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.