Microsoft Teams is an incredibly useful collaboration and communication tool for modern businesses. By combining chat features, collaborative document editing for Microsoft Office files, meeting coordination, and built-in team calling features, Microsoft Teams provides a robust collaboration platform for any business—large or small.
However, many organizations and teams don’t know where to start when it comes to using Microsoft’s business communication and collaboration platform. So, for those who want to learn more about Teams and how to use it, we created an online training course that walks you through the various functions of Teams. This course consists of a series of short, informative videos that provide a simple overview of important Teams functions as well as examples of those functions being put to use.
Here are a few highlights from the Teams training course to get you started:
How to Get Microsoft Teams
There are three basic ways to access Microsoft Teams:
- Download and Install the Full Version for Computers. You can download the Microsoft Teams software to your computer. This allows you to access some key features of Teams even while offline—though the collaboration tools will still require an internet connection to work. Additionally, the local copy of Teams can push important notifications to you while the app works in the background. You can download the Teams desktop software from the Microsoft store.
- Access the Browser Version of Teams. Instead of downloading and installing the full Teams software, you can access your Microsoft Teams tool using your web browser. This doesn’t require a download, and you can access all of your Teams features from the web—all you need is an active internet connection. This option is often used by people who don’t have a lot of storage to spare on their computers.
- Download the Mobile App. There is also a mobile app version of Microsoft Teams that can be installed on Android and iOS devices (such as smartphones). The mobile app is designed around a touchscreen interface to make it more useful for smartphones and tablets. This is often the ideal solution for remote work environments and employees who are constantly on the go, but need to collaborate closely with office employees. The mobile app version of Teams can be found on the iOS App Store or the Google Play store.
Each of these versions of the Teams software have their own pros and cons. One of the pros for the desktop version of Microsoft Teams is that, if you have a Microsoft Office 365 plan that allows you to download local versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (or other key Office software suite programs), they can be easily accessed and managed with the desktop Teams software.
What Everyone Should Know about Teams Chat
Chat features are often the #1 driver for adoption of any new business communication and collaboration tool. Microsoft Teams is no exception.
The chat portion of Teams allows remote workers and office employees to communicate easily and organize their efforts more efficiently. So, it’s important for every employee to know the basics about Microsoft Teams’ chat features.
Here are a few basic things about Teams Chat that every user should know how to do:
- Start a Private Chat. Every user in Teams should know how to start a private chat. Thankfully, Teams makes this exceedingly easy. Users can simply click on the Chat tab, then click on the pen and paper logo to the left of the search bar. From there, they can enter the name of whomever they want to chat with.
- Add People to a Chat. Say that you need to bring a new person in on your private Teams Chat conversation. All you need to do is click on the Add People button on the upper right of the private chat screen and type in the name of the person you want to add. This will create a new group chat consisting of the people you want to talk with.
- Insert Emojis. Teams has a couple of ways to insert emojis into a conversation. First, you could type a colon “:” followed by the name of the emoji with another colon to close the command (such as “:smile:” or “:angry:”). You may notice a suggestion box pop in as soon as you start typing, suggesting several emojis that use the first few letters you type in their name. Second, you could click on the smiley face icon in the bottom of the chat panel to select an emoji from a panel of different default options.
- Save Messages for Future Reference. Say that there’s an important reminder or bit of information in a message from a coworker that you’ll want to recall without having to dig through your entire chat history to find. You can click on the ellipses icon above a chat message to “save” that message for future reference. Once saved, you can click on your profile picture and select the Saved menu option to see all of your saved messages.
- Edit or Delete Messages. Have you accidentally put a typo in your message that you don’t want to leave up for everyone to see? Did you share a GIF to the wrong chat channel? You can edit or delete your messages in Teams to correct these mistakes with ease. Simply click on the offending message, click on the ellipses menu, and select Edit to change the message’s contents, or Delete to remove it entirely.
These are all basic elements of the chat feature that every user should be familiar with.
Working with Microsoft Teams
Of course, effective collaboration and business communication requires more than just basic chat features. There are many other ways to interact with the Teams software to empower remote workers and office employees alike to collaborate more effectively.
Being able to create and manage channels in Teams is a key part of that. So, a significant portion of the training course covers how to do various things with Teams channels, such as:
- Creating Teams. Want to set up a team to encourage collaboration? Simply go to the Teams tab, click on the Join or Create a Team option at the bottom of the team list column, and click on the Create Team option that appears. You could also join a private Teams channel by entering the channel’s code (which you can get from an admin for that channel) at this screen. From there, you can either create your team from scratch by inviting specific individuals, or import an existing team from your Microsoft Office 365 groups. You can then select whether you want to create a private or public team. Private teams are invite-only—nobody can see them or their contents without the appropriate team code. Public teams can be joined by anyone in your organization. Once you select the team type, you can then name it, create a description, and start inviting users.
- Changing Team Names. Made a mistake naming a Team? Need to represent a new team focus with a different name? Simply click on the ellipses menu next to the team name in the Teams tab and select Edit Team. From there, you’ll get options to change the team name, description, and privacy setting.
- Create Team Channels. Within a team, you might want to create separate channels to focus on specific topics that the team has to deal with. By default, every newly-created team has a “General” channel, but say you want to make one channel for fun or silly things that aren’t business-relevant, and one for more productivity-oriented content. Click on the ellipses menu next to the team name, then select the Add Channel option. From there, you’ll get a menu asking you to create a channel name and description—as well as select whether everyone can see the new channel by default.
- Create, Share and Edit Files in Teams Channels. Putting files in Teams channels can make it very easy for everyone on a team to find and work on together. Instead of having to create a mass email with an attachment and hoping that all the key people 1) got the email without it hitting spam; 2) opened and read it; and 3) were able to download the attachment, you can simply upload the file to your Teams channel so everyone can find it easily. For Office 365 software suite files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), members of the team will be able to open the file and work on it collaboratively as well.
- Changing Notifications Settings. Users can turn on banner and feed notifications in the Teams software so they can keep apprised of new comments in specific Teams channels. Simply go to the channel, click the ellipses menu, and select Channel Notifications. From there, you can select to turn notifications for all comments in the channel on or off, as well as notifications for when your name (or a general @channel alert) is mentioned in a comment on that channel. This helps to keep users apprised of important notifications that may affect their work.
Creating Meetings in Microsoft Teams
In the Teams software, there are two ways to create a meeting:
- Ad Hoc Meetings. When you have an idea you want to discuss with someone right now, you can create an ad hoc meeting with them. You can start these meetings easily by clicking on either the Video Call or Phone Call buttons at the upper right of a private chat panel. This will immediately start a call with the person in the private chat.
- Scheduled Meetings. You can also set up a meeting ahead of time and invite one or more people to join you in that meeting. Many users prefer to use the Microsoft Outlook app to set up meetings in Teams. In Outlook, you can click on the option New Teams Meeting to start the meeting creation wizard. You can also schedule meetings in Teams by going to the Calendar tab and clicking on the New Meeting button at the top right of the window. From there, you can fill in the information you need and invite users by following the onscreen directions.
Of course, aside from creating meetings in Teams, you may also need to join meetings that others have created. To do this, you can click on the meeting name in the Calendar tab, and then select Join. You could also choose to chat with the meeting’s participants to ask for additional information and resources prior to the start of the meeting.
If you’re making a presentation during a Teams meeting, you may want to share your screen so others can see what you’re talking about. Others in the Teams meeting can hit the Request Control button so they can control what’s on the screen, even when the both of you aren’t in the same room.
To share your screen, click on the Share button (which looks like a picture of a monitor with an arrow pointing to the screen). From there, you’ll get several options:
- Show Desktop. This shows your entire desktop.
- Show Window. This displays a specific window that is open on your computer.
- Show PowerPoint. This opens your PowerPoint presentation within the Teams meeting window for others to see.
These options allow you to share precisely what you want to share with meeting participants.
If you have more questions about Teams, or need more in-depth information on how to use all of its features, check out our Microsoft Teams training course!