Meetings in Microsoft Teams have evolved significantly since Teams initial release in 2017 with COVID-19 being a catalyst for adoption across organizations. With employees being remote, Teams has become an integral tool in facilitating company all-hands gatherings, town halls, webinars, and product launches. We’ll be looking at large meeting options currently available in Teams, recommended practices and real-world learnings that can help drive positive experiences for parties in attendance.
Calendar year 2021 brought substantial investments in increased meeting capacity as one of many enhancements to the overall Teams meeting experience. The culmination of this user capacity investment was Large Meetings and Webinar functionality in Teams. These meeting options are in addition to Teams Live Events, which was previously the only option for hosting large scale meetings.
As the event organizer, you want to make sure you are following all the necessary actions to manage the meeting successfully. For instance, hard muting video for attendees can greatly reduce video bandwidth on a network and remove unintended video sharing in large audiences. Microsoft currently supports the ability to have 1,000-person meetings, which can overflow into a view-only experience for up to 10,000 participants. However, only 1,000 invitees can interact by using chat, audio, and video.
Teams meetings offer a collaborative and interactive experience with options to add structure for large meetings. As you extend the meeting to a larger audience, it is important to take appropriate steps to make the meeting more effective. As a supplement to our Virtual Event Playbook in this blog post, we will provide event organizers with best practices, tips, and preparation steps to optimize the large meeting experience and efficiently handle any issues that might occur.
To run a successful event, Microsoft recommends following the practices outlined below, for meeting participants, IT administrators and IT support staff.
Organizer and Presenters
When creating meeting invitations for Webinars or Large Meetings, Microsoft recommends defining presenters in advance so that attendee microphones and cameras will be disabled when joining. By following this structured meeting methodology, we avoid disruptions during the event while still allowing attendee participation at the discretion of the Presenters during interactive periods. At the beginning of the event, Presenters or Moderators should set expectations on interactive periods promoting the raise hand feature for attendee speaking order.
Why does Microsoft recommend the structured meeting approach?
Consider attending an in-person town hall event. Everyone isn’t speaking at once, and especially not over top of the presenters. There are defined speakers with dedicated times for audience interaction. During the interactive portion of the event, attendees will speak one at a time at a defined location that has a…microphone. This translates nearly verbatim to Webinars and Large Meetings where people are “handed” the microphone by Presenters or Moderators.
Users can create any meeting type from the Microsoft Teams client calendar through the drop down menu on the top right of the window, but note that Webinars and Live events can only be scheduled through the Teams client calendar, while standard/large meetings can be scheduled from the Outlook calendar.
To manage the meeting options in Teams or Outlook, click the Meeting options button and define the settings as required.
In the screen shot below, announcements are disabled, Siunie is selected as a presenter, with attendee mic and cameras being disabled.
To schedule a Webinar, please follow the detailed guidance at the following Microsoft support pages as it requires a few more steps than a standard meeting.
There is a plethora of information, documentation and blog articles that detail the features available for the following three meeting types, so we’ll skip the minutiae and list a few items that will be relevant to upcoming topics.
Breakout rooms cannot be utilized for any meeting that exceeds 300 users at any time during the meeting. If the user count drops below 300, Breakout rooms are still not available.
Before attempting to schedule a Large Meeting or Webinar, confirm that the features have been enabled.
Closing Notes for Large Meetings
In this post, we covered the different types of meetings Microsoft Teams can host, guidance for selecting the proper meeting type for an event and reviewed recommended practices for scheduled large Teams meetings.
To get the best overview of your meeting options, visit our Virtual Event Playbook which covers the various ways you can host an engaging and inclusive event, or take it a step further with our Virtual Event Producer course on Microsoft Learn.
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