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10 of the best tips for taking your use of Microsoft Teams to the next level

It goes without saying but Microsoft Teams is one of the best collaboration platforms on the market right now. Largely down to the fact that it comes as part of Microsoft 365 or Office 365 licensing with most businesses using this platform to keep in contact with their staff both in the office and when working from home. 

Teams is so much more than just a communication platform as you can set up channels to discuss projects/work with your team, share and store files as well as conduct meetings. Better still as part of Microsoft 365/Office 365 licensing, you will find that this platform seamlessly integrates with all things Microsoft including Word, Excel, Outlook.  

In our latest blog article, we are going to take you past the basics of Microsoft Teams and focus on the ways in which your business can take your use of Microsoft Teams to the next level. 


1) Whip your teams and channels into shape 

When you login to the application, navigate to the sidebar on the left, select the Teams icon which will launch the Teams pane. From here, you will be able to easily see which teams you are part of with the corresponding channels under each one. 

You will find that Teams automatically adds these in the order you either joined or created them. As you get used to using Teams on a regular basis, you will find that some teams and channels become more of a priority than others which may not be in the order, they currently stand in. 

This is where the ability in Teams to pin your channel can prove useful. In order to achieve this, simply select the three-dot icon on the right of the channel name and then pick ‘Pin’ when the menu opens. 

In order to make changes to the order of your channels all you have to do is simply click and hold a channel name and drag it up or down depending on where you want it. 

This same logic can be applied when you want to change the order of your Teams, simply click the name and drag it where you want it to be. 

Standing out from the crowd 

2) The ability to control the conversation 

You will find that the expanded message composing window that is visible after clicking on the ‘Format’ option can open many different doors. 

If you are wanting a specific conversation to stand out from the crowd, you can do this through an announcement. To do this, simply go to the expanded message window, select the ‘New’ conversation drop down in the top left and pick ‘Announcement’. You will see that a field appears where you are able to add a large headline for your post as well as a background image should you need to. 

3) The ability to highlight important messages 

One of the other ways to make messages stand out is by highlighting them in the channel conversation. After you add a message, Teams will notify other people in the chat to look at your message. This will be set as a reminder every 2 minutes for 20 minutes. It is important to note that you should only use this option if the message is of the utmost importance. 

To highlight a message, simply hit the ‘format’ option. From here, you will see that the message composing window will appear. When you see this look on the right and hit the three dots (more options) button and then when this opens simply select ‘mark as important’

Take chatting to the next level 

4) Response to a certain message 

It goes without saying but conversations within Teams channels can be seen by all members of that team whereas private chats take place between a certain number of individuals and can only be accessed by the chat icon to the left. 

Within a group chat, you will find that messages are shown when they are added, regardless of which person posted them. If you want to reply to an earlier message, simply hover over that message. When you do this, you will see a selection of different emotions, go to the end and you will see three dots (more options) button and then hit reply on the small menu. Once you have replied, you will see that the original message appears below so both individuals understand what is being responded to. 

Follow all notifications 

5) Watch high priority channels 

If you would like to be notified of your colleagues' latest activities in certain channels, simply open the Teams pane and then pick the team name to review its channels. From here, hover over the channel name then select the three-dot (more options) button on the right then go to ‘Channel notifications’ and then select the option ‘all activity’

To take this once step further, there is also another option called ‘custom’. If you select this, the ‘channel notification settings’ will appear. From here, you are able to choose whether to be notified when a message is posted into the channel or when this channel is mentioned. If you decide to turn on this option, you can decide how you want to be notified through your activity feed and as a banner or solely through your activity feed. 

Improve shareability 

6) Make use of SharePoint as a central point for storing and sharing files 

You will find that many businesses such as ourselves use Microsoft SharePoint as a place where they can store and access files. If your business is using SharePoint in sync with Teams, you are able to go to the ‘Files’ tab to share files with your team through SharePoint or access files in SharePoint that are already in the channel. 

You will find that if you decide to add a file to the Files tab, it's automatically saved to the SharePoint site for your team. In order to access this site, select the three-dot option in the ‘Files tab’ and hit ‘Open in SharePoint’

In addition to this, team members are able to collaborate on files shared on this channel through Word, Excel or PowerPoint. 

Better still SharePoint team site owners are able to add pages, lists and document libraries to a Teams channel. Within this channel, you are able to simply hit the ‘+’ button on the right of the tabs. From here, you can ‘add a tab’ followed by choosing the ‘SharePoint’ button. When the panel opens hit the ‘Pages, Lists or Document libraries’ to see which items are available for you to add. After you have decided which ones to choose hit ‘Save’.  

Take control of your meetings 

7) Switch off attendees' cameras and microphones 

You will probably already notice this but in small meetings its common for all attendees to have their cameras on, however when it comes to large scale ones you may wish to stop attendees from having their cameras and microphones on to avoid any distractions during the call. 

In order to achieve this before a meeting starts, simply head to the ‘Meeting options’ window and switch off the ‘Allow mic for attendees?’ and ‘Allow camera for attendees?’ sliders then save these options. 

In order to achieve this during a meeting to stop attendees switching on cameras and mics, simply go to the three-dot (mor actions) option in the Participants panel and hit ‘disable mic for attendees’ or ‘disable camera for attendees’

Seamlessly integrate Teams with other applications 

8) Use Microsoft Planner to manage tasks 

One of the great things about Microsoft Teams is the fact that you can make use of other Microsoft 365 applications within Teams such as Microsoft Planner. In order to achieve this, open the channel and hit the ‘+’ button to the right-hand side of the channel. Select ‘add a tab’, followed by the ‘Tasks by Planner and To Do’ button. From the next window, start a new plan or use an existing one for your team and hit the save button. At this point you will be able to easily add and allocate tasks or simply review tasks and projects from the dashboard. 

9) Add events with a calendar in your channel 

You have the ability to add a calendar in a channel that can be used to plan future events and meetings for all those in that channel. Simply open the channel and select the ‘+’ icon on the right-hand side which will reveal the ‘add a tab’ panel. Select the ‘channel calendar’ option, then pick a name for this calendar followed by ‘add’

In order to add an event to the calendar in this channel as well as your own, open the event on the calendar and then hit the ‘add to calendar’ option. 

Take advantage of the added extras 

10) Make your job easier through keyboard shortcuts 

Making your day-to-day job easier through keyboard shortcuts can be a game changer. Within Teams, select the ‘r’ key on your keyboard to quickly reply to messages. Or simply hit ‘Ctrl-O’ to speedily attach a file to a message. In order to see all these keyboard shortcuts at once, simply hit ‘ctrl’ and period keys together. 

Next Steps? 

If you are a business that is looking to taking advantage of the above tips by implementing Microsoft Teams or are looking for some additional Teams training or anything else Managed Services related then please give our IT experts a call today to discuss how we can help your business to become more efficient. 

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