Creating Online meetups with Teams - Team Blog Series 1
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
With the covid-19 lockdown, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of online meetups and some significant increase in the usage of Zoom and other platforms. Not to be undone, Microsoft teams has a great story to tell in the space, but there are a few things to be aware of. I have recently been involved in two online initiatives using this method, Community Cafe (an initiative between all of the Irish Data and Power Platform user groups) and Azure Global Bootcamp. Next weekend (2nd May) I will be using this to host a 6 track community event (www.dataweekender.com)
A big call out to Ben Watt of Datalineo who launched the Community Cafe concept. As part of helping out with the running of Community Cafe, I was able to build up this set of notes.
Creating the meeting
I am assuming you have a Microsoft365 license that covers Teams. When you create a teams meeting, you end up with a URL to the meeting that can be connected to at any time. Once you have this URL, you don't need to send an invite to people, you can just send the URL. As such, to host a user group meeting in Teams, you don't need to invite people. Instead, create the meeting for yourself (and maybe other moderators), get the URL, and share that via your normal channels. There are a few other settings to note. The full list of instructions are
1) Either via the Teams App or your outlook client or mail.outlook365.com, create a regular meeting. If you are doing this in outlook or mail.outlook365.com you will have to select the option to make this a teams meeting.
Setting up via mail.outlook365.com. Note the "Team Meeting" is selected
Setting up via Teams app
2) Send the meeting to yourself (or other people who will help you run the meeting). Now in your calendar, you will see the meeting and if you open the appointment you will see "Join Microsoft Teams" meeting. If you right-click and copy the link address, you now have the URL to publish to your meetup attendees. In my case the URL looks like;
If you do this via the team app, the process is the same, right-click and copy link.
3) You now might want to change some settings to make it easier for people to join your meeting. If you are creating your meeting in mail.outlook365.com then at this point, open your Team App, where you should see your meeting. When you select the meeting, you will see "Meeting Options". Click on this.
This will bring you to an online form with the following options
For a user group, I find it is best to let everyone bypass the lobby and turn off announcing people. I also change the "Who can present" to anyone in my organization as this allows other people to present without me having to make them a presenter. For user group meeting, don't make your speaker a member of the organisation as you can always make them a presenter on the night. Changing to people in the organisation is useful for moderators.
Once you have set this, you are good to go, your event is set up and you just have to announce the URL to your members.
Starting the Event
On the day of the event, I recommend you do the following;
Approx 15 minutes before your meeting, join it, and immediately share a welcome slide so that people who join see a friendly meeting and know that they are in the right place. This slide can have some session guidelines for your attendees such as put themselves on mute, ask questions via the chat room, and get a cup of tea before the session starts.
The first 7 people who join may not be on mute, so if they are noisy, just ask them to mute, or you can mute individuals or everyone. After 7 people have joined, all people will mute by default when they join.
Please note, that people can unmute at any stage. You may encourage this, or you might want to keep muting people. In my experience so far, everyone is very respectful and they just stay on mute unless there is an obvious time to talk.
Also, if you have to mute all, please remember you will mute yourself and the presenter as well, so use with caution.
When your speaker arrives you can make them a presenter via the participant pannel and when you are ready, introduce them and ask them to start screen sharing.
Running the Event
As a moderator, your job is to be the eyes and ears of the speaker. Keep an eye on chat and direct questions to the speaker at the appropriate time. If you see a question that you can answer, free free to do so via chat, but you may want to run your answer past the speaker at the right time to get their input. If the speaker experiences difficulties such as lag, going on mute, etc, just try to talk through the issue with them. Attendees won't mind as you are trying to make it right. I had one speaker who ended moving close to the router to improve lag and it solved the issue. I had other speakers who had issues sharing their screen, and again, just intervene and talk them through what has to be done. If you are gathering feedback about the session and you have an online form, use the chat to send out the link to participants.
I hope you find this of use. I will follow up with a second post on advice for speakers and moderators.