Microsoft keeps adding new and exciting features to its teamwork hub and collaboration platform in Microsoft 365, Teams. If you're using Teams and you missed Microsoft's updates, here are some of the best new features in the Teams desktop app that we are raving about and how to use them.
1 | Breakout rooms
Ever wanted a small virtual meeting room to facilitate small-group discussions before presenting or discussing to the main meeting? Microsoft brought breakout rooms to Teams to assist with this. You can still use the same meeting functionalities in a breakout room including screen-sharing capabilities, chat pane, and audio and video feeds.
You need to be a meeting organizer or a presenter with breakout room manager privileges to use breakout rooms in Teams. To start a breakout room, simply click on the upper right icon of your meeting window. Participants will either be automatically assigned to a breakout room or you can manually assign them.
2 | Spotlighting people
When there are several presenters who lead a company-wide meeting, meeting organizers and presenters can put the spotlight on certain individuals to make them stand out more. With this feature in Teams, you can pin someone's video in a prominent position onscreen and you can spotlight up to seven people at a time.
To use this feature, right click on the person's video and select Spotlight from the menu. You can also select Show participants icon at the top of the screen to see a list of all the attendees in the meeting then right click on that person's name and select Spotlight.
To remove someone from a spotlight, right-click on their video and select Stop spotlighting from the menu.
3 | Keyboard shortcuts for virtual hand raising
When you want to signal to the meeting organizer or presenter that you have a question or comment without interrupting the speaker, you use Teams' raise hand feature. Today, you can make this action quicker by using keyboard shortcuts.
To raise or lower your hand, press Ctrl-Shift-K on Windows. To have your screen reader read aloud a list of others who are raising their hand, click Ctrl-Shift-L on Windows.
4 | Improved Whiteboard
Whiteboards are great for ideating with teams using rich visual collaboration workspace. You can add text, images, diagrams, notes, sketches and move them to a board. Today's whiteboard in Teams has a fresh new look, has over 40 new templates, 12 new sticky notes and note grids, several inking tool enhancements, reaction icons and more.
You can add the Whiteboard app to any of your Teams channels by clicking on the + icon on your channel. Click on "Add a tab" pane and click on the Whiteboard icon. Click on Save to complete the steps to add the whiteboard to your Teams channel. You can also follow these same steps for adding a whiteboard to a chat.
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5 | Live transcription
Live transcriptions are useful especially for those meeting participants that are unable to hear well or who are not fluent in the language used in the meeting. Microsoft Teams has long offered text transcriptions for recorded meetings after the meetings are over and another AI-driven captioning feature where it shows what meeting participants are saying in real time. The newer live transcription combines these two, providing a transcript sidebar that shows everything that's been said in a meeting, complete with speaker attribution.
To start live transcription in a meeting, click the three-dot More actions icon at the upper right of the meeting window, and from the menu that opens, click Start transcription. Meeting participants will see a notification saying that the meeting is being transcribed.
6 | Stream live music in Teams with music mode
With music mode, Teams optimizes audio settings to get the highest sound fidelity when streaming live music via a Teams meeting. Teams will automatically adjust the audio bitrate based on the available bandwidth of your network.
To turn on high fidelity music mode in Teams, simply go to Settings > Devices > High fidelity music mode and switch the toggle to on. Once you're in a meeting, select the music note at the top of your meeting window and you're now ready to transmit music. When you're done, select the music note again to disable high fidelity music mode.
7 | Pin a message
Important messages that you want to pin to the top of a chat regardless of how many messages that come afterwards is now available in Teams. You can pin only a single message at a time and chat members can freely pin or unpin a message in the chat.