With so many people working remotely these days, effective communication and collaboration tools are more important than ever. 

Microsoft Teams is an excellent resource to keep your team connected and working cohesively when they can't physically be in the same space.

I've put together 4 tricks to help you get the most out of Microsoft Teams:

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TIP #1 – Use the Outlook button! 

We’ve all set up meetings or conference calls via email or phone before, and after everyone agrees to a day and time, inevitably someone sends out a calendar invite with a conference line and maybe even a link to a screen sharing program.   

But, it’s incredibly easy to set up a Teams meeting by simply clicking a button. When you set up a Teams meeting, it automatically generates a link within the calendar invite for guests to click on. This will take them directly to the Meeting. 

Here’s how you do it:

  • In Outlook, go to your Calendar, and click New Teams Meeting instead of New Appointment. (In this instance, I am going to create a meeting for me and my colleague Jill to review a blog together.)  
  • A link to the Teams meeting will be automatically created for you while you set up the date, time and invitees the way you would a standard Outlook invitation.  
  • If you’ve already created an Appointment, and decide you want to make it a Teams Meeting, all you do is open the calendar invite, and then click that same New Teams Meeting button directly in the meeting invite. 

One of the best parts about Teams meetings is that even people who aren’t in your organization, or who don’t use Teams at all, can participate – all they need is an internet connection and a good device. 

TIP #2 – Share your screen with your team! 

Many people still like to use conference lines and cell phone calls to talk about things they are working on, but with Microsoft Teams there’s really no need for that.   

You can still have voice chat with Microsoft Teams, while at the same time working together by utilizing a screen share. 

To share your screen when you are in a Teams meeting:

  • Look for the button that looks like a rectangle with an upward arrow in it. That’s the screen share button. 
  • Once you click it, it will give you the option of which window, monitor or application you want to share with those in the meeting. 
  • One more click and you will switch to that application which the audience can now see.  
  • You will know you are actively sharing your screen because the little rectangle we just clicked will now have a X inside it, indicating you are now sharing a screen.  The button now is the screen share disconnect button. 

TIP #3 – Work on files together! 

What if you just want to work on a document together rather than sharing your screen?  Maybe you just want to be able to fill in a spreadsheet as a team, or you want to proofread and edit a letter together? 

No problem.   

  • In your chat or Teams meeting, click on the small Paperclip button that looks just like the attachment button when you send an email.  
  • You can choose to upload a document to Teams from your computer or your OneDrive account if you use that.  
  • Navigate to the document you want to share, and then upload it by clicking the Send button in your chat.  
  • Now, if you click on the Files tab at the top of the conversation, you will see your document.  You can click on the file name in the list, and that document will open in Teams directly. 
  • Now you can edit the document similarly to how you would in the standard Microsoft Office application. But the big difference is that now everyone in that Teams conversation can edit the document together. 
In this example, my colleague Jill is collaborating with me on a blog post we are putting together.  

As you can see, when one person makes changes those changes are synchronized in real time, so everyone can see the results as they happen – and the changes are automatically saved. 

As you can probably tell, this feature has many great uses and is a good way to work together when you aren’t in the same place.

TIP #4 – Use meeting notes to keep track  

Want to keep track of the key points and actions coming from your Teams meeting?  It’s easy.  Just use meeting notes to keep track of things.  Notes are a little bit different than a chat.   

  • Once you are in a Teams meeting, select More Options towards the bottom of the screen.
  • Then click Show Meeting Notes.  You may also see Start Taking Meeting Notes. 
  • Once either option is selected, an area slides in from the right where you can start typing notes for the meeting.   

You can even add a new section to the notes if your conversation shifts and you need that level of organization.   

When the meeting is done, you’ll be able to go back to that Teams conversation from the meeting, access and edit your notes.  All you have to do is click back on the meeting conversation on the left, and all of your documents and notes are still there. 

And if this meeting is one of a series, you’ll even be able to keep an ongoing catalog of meeting notes.   You can see why this is such a useful function of Microsoft Teams. 

Teams is a very powerful tool, especially when you can’t have everyone in the same room at the same time. 

I’m hoping we can learn to use products like Microsoft Teams in new and creative ways.  Even though many of us are using products like this right now to deal with being out of the office, these tools really should be a part of our day to day work whether we are working from home or not. 

Do YOU have any favorite tips & tricks for Teams that I didn’t mention? If so, let me know in the comments section…I’d love to see them!  

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or feedback.     Thanks for watching! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Until next time, stay vigilant my friends!