Running an online conference with Teams. - Teams Blog Series 3
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
I am one of the founders of #DataWeekender. We are an online pop-up data conference. At our first event, we had 6 tracks, with 7 sessions per tracks running in parallel with 600 attendees on the day and we ran it with Teams. This blog shows how we set this up.
6 tracks x 7 session is 42 sessions, however, we did not set up a meeting per session, instead, we went for 1 meeting per track with a 15-minute break between sessions to allow people time to take a break, get a coffee and allow the moderators time to get the next speaker online.
The key callout when setting up is to have organizers and moderators in the same Team's tenant. Currently, only members of the organization that hosts the team's meeting can start the meeting. Each track had an owner and two moderators, so a decision was made to set up new accounts on my domain. Each of these users had to have a license that would allow them to run Teams so I purchased some Microsoft 365 Business Basic licenses. On a month to month basis, this would cost €5.10 per user. We accepted this as part of the cost of running the event, however as it happened, when I went to cancel the subscription, I qualified for a full refund. I assume this was because the licenses were only active for a few days. Since then, there is a new Microsoft Teams Exploratory plan available that would cover this for free. Microsoft Teams Exploratory will be available until Jan 2021 and after this you would have to switch licenses. All of this setup can be done from your Office365 admin portal. This link allows you to add users either one by one or by importing a CSV file. Once your users are created you can purchase office licenses here or if you are using the Exploratory license, you can use that. Once you have your licenses, you can assign them to users either via the user management section, or the license section.
(Tenant User with appropriate teams license assigned)
With all the licenses created, we then created 6 teams meeting. These don't have to be set up by each track owner, and in our case, one person created each meeting. Track moderators and owners were invited to their relevant meeting.. What you have to watch here is is that only the person who created the meeting can access the meeting options. There are a lot of requests to change this behavior, but for now only the meeting creator can do so. You will need to access meeting options so you can modify the setting to bypass the lobby and who can present. When you have created a meeting in Teams you can access the Meeting Options. (See below)
(Accessing Meeting options from the scheduled event in Teams)
When you click on Meeting Options, you will connect to a meeting options page on your team's tenant and set them to what you need. In our case, we wanted everyone to bypass the lobby and only people in my organization can present. For more details on this, see my previous blog post on using teams for remote user groups.
(Setting the option in Meeting Options)
Keep in mind that only the meeting creator can modify settings, so you will have to make a decision if you want each track owner to create the meeting, or if you want one person to do so.
With your meeting setup, you can share the link with people via your normal channels. In our case, we put the links onto www.DataWeekender.com and directed people to that site for instructions and links. A Team's meeting URL is long, so you might want to shorten it with a URL shortener. To get the URL, go to the meeting in Team and copy the link address (Right-click on the Join Microsoft Teams Meeting)
(Getting the Meeting URL)
This approach allowed us to end up with 6 short URL's that we were able to advertise to our attendees and speakers. Everyone was able to join a track with no lobby and no presentation rights. The track owners and moderators were able to promote the speakers to presenters when it was their time. Those steps are;
Make moderators and track owners members of the one team's tenant
Create a meeting per track inviting the owners and moderators
Set meeting option to bypass the lobby and only People in the organization can present
Grab and shorten the URL
Promote the URL via your conference channels
I hope you find this useful.