Best 5 cool & useful features in Microsoft Teams for beginners 

Microsoft Teams for beginners

Microsoft Teams is being developed constantly and new features show up, previous ones get updates and things change rapidly. I wanted to share five cool & useful features in Microsoft Teams for beginners, so that all you who have just started to use it, will get the most out of it!

Microsoft Teams is now just a tad over two years old. It has now over 44 million active users daily and 91 of the Fortune 100 companies now use it. No doubt, it’s the rising star of any collaboration tool.

1. Meeting options

Meetings in Microsoft Teams include way more than only audio and video. It has the “Live events” where users in your organization can broadcast video and meeting content to large online audiences, intelligent screen sharing capability as well as the whiteboard app. All of them combined is the key to net-gen collaboration within Microsoft Teams. What’s tremendously good with the meetings experience is that not everybody needs to be a member of your organization. You can invite anybody to start collaborating.

You can schedule a Microsoft Teams meeting anytime, anywhere, from any device. What you need to know is that the calendar in Microsoft Teams is connected to your Outlook calendar. That means that whenever you schedule a meeting in Microsoft Teams, it’ll show up in Outlook, and vice versa. Since recently there is a new tap called Meeting Options.

Microsoft Teams Meeting Options
Microsoft Teams – Meeting Options

When you click on the link, you’ll get forwarded to a web page where you only have two options to select. First is who can bypass the lobby for this meeting. The second one is who can present. Within Microsoft Teams “everybody” can share his/her screen and mute/unmute “anybody” or even remove you from the meeting. You, as being the meeting organizer, can be muted by accident by an attendee and you wouldn’t even notice it. To avoid any accidental issues such as screen sharings, mute/unmutes or even removal from meetings – please change the options accordingly.

Microsoft Teams Detailed Meeting Options
Microsoft Teams – Meeting Options

2. Tags in Microsoft Teams

If you’ve been an avid social media user, then you are very familiar with the tags and tagging functionality. Microsoft Teams lets users communicate with a subset of modern remote co-workers on a team by simply tagging them. Simply create a tag and add the team members and notify them by @mentioning them. Team owners and members (if the feature is enabled for them) can add one or more tags to a person.

As an example – I created a ValoMarketing and ValoSpeakers tag and added a few people – but the Marketing has a hashtag indicator “#”.

Microsoft Teams - usage of tags
Usage & managing of tagging and tags

The reason is very simple. As you can see below, I did tag the tags and two channels. When you add a hashtag in front of a tag, from a UX-perspective, it’s easier to understand that ValoMarketing is a hashtag. Otherwise, your modern coworkers can get confused with what is a channel, what is a tag.

Microsoft Teams Hashtags and Tagging
Using the “#” as an indicator with the tags feature helps to create a separation between the tags and @mentions of channels.

3. Private Channels

Private Channels are a container within Microsoft Teams that allow only a specific subset of users to collaborate in a secure way. The reason why Private channels are so important in Microsoft Teams is that you might want to use a private space and limit the limit collaboration to a specific group of modern co-workers who are currently working remotely.

Microsoft Teams Private Channels
The Lock icon is a visual aid to recognise the Private Channels

Currently, Private Channels support connectors and tabs except Stream, Planner and Forms. Private channels are so different compared to standard channels that it’s extremely important to understand what the capabilities and drawbacks are from an end-user perspective.

Here is a list of all the important artifacts to take into consideration:

  • A team can have 30 private channels in addition to the 200 channels they already can make
  • A private channel can have up to 250 members and they must be already members of the team
  • A private channel cannot be changed to a public team and vice-versa
  • If a specific modern co-worker is removed from a team, it’s also removed from the Private Channel
  • You can’t schedule or record a meeting to/in a Private Channel (MeetNow works in Private Channels)

Team owners are NOT private channel owners but they can see, delete and restore the private channels. In NO way the Team owners can see the contents, unless access has been granted. This is because SharePoint creates a Site Collection behind the scenes and that site collection is not connected to any group, which is why team owners have to have given access to a Private Channel as well.

4. Email address for each channel

Every channel in Microsoft Teams has a specific email address. This is very useful if you – as an example – receive an email with attachments from a vendor/partner and before replying him, you’d like to collaborate with your modern co-workers. In that case, you can get the email address from your channel and forward your email and attachments to a specific channel.

Microsoft Teams Channel email addresses
Each Microsoft Teams channels has its own email address

You must click on “Get email address” in order to generate an email address to use. The drawback with this is that the email is not editable and has a Microsoft domain name. What many of us don’t know is that you can select the advanced settings from the pane to apply a certain level of governance, meaning you can choose who can send the emails to this channel.

You can allow that:

  • Anyone can send an email to this channel
  • Only members of this team can send emails to this channel
  • Only members from a specific domain can send emails to this channel
Microsoft Email Get email address
Advanced setting for each Microsoft Teams channels’ email addresses

5. Priority Access for notifications

When your status is set to “Do not disturb”, you can still receive notifications for chats, calls, and @mentions from the people you want will give the possibility to. This will allow your boss or any other important modern co-worker from your organization to chat/call with you even if your status is set to “Do Not Disturb” (DND).

You can find this setting under Settings and under the “Privacy” tab.

Microsoft Teams Priority Access
You can give your most important co-workers priority access even when you are on “Do not disturb” -mode.

Hit the “Manage Priority Access” button and simply add the users that can still reach you through your “Do Not Disturb” status. If you want to remove modern co-workers simply hit on the “x” to the right of the user and he/she won’t be anymore in your Priority Access.

I hope you got to enjoy these tips about cool & useful features in Microsoft Teams for beginners! If you feel like learning more tips and tricks regarding the usage of Microsoft Teams, check out more tips from my previous blog post on the topic! For a deeper dive on Private channels and Microsoft Teams overall, download my free eBook “How to Become a Microsoft Teams Rockstar”.


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