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How to Run a Successful Microsoft Teams Meeting, Live Event, or Webinar

Jason Wynn

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The world of hybrid meetings, hybrid working, meetings, webinars, and live events is firmly upon us. As of today, organizations have three options for creating a new video conference within Microsoft Teams: meetings, webinars, and live events. In this article, I will give you an overview of the different features of each option and provide recommendations and guidance on when to use each. 

Best practices for running a Microsoft Teams meeting, live event, or webinar

Microsoft Teams allows organizations to set up hybrid meetings. Here, “hybrid” simply means that we can consider at least one remote participant as a hybrid meeting. The biggest piece of advice I can give you regarding hybrid meetings is to ensure that you make the most of asynchronous communication.

Asynchronous communication 

If a portion of your team or attendees are working from the office while others are remote, it’s easy to treat remote attendees as if they are disengaged. To prevent them from feeling left out of important conversations, you should adopt an asynchronous mindset. In practice, instead of hosting a meeting on-site, you can make a Microsoft Teams meeting online and actively involve everyone.

Collecting information in advance 

Collecting information from your colleagues before the meeting before its starts gives you time to prepare for any response. This also allows you to tailor your meeting to what participants are going to ask and require. Where applicable, you should send out any important notes, or meeting outputs, where it’s relevant to do so.   

Translation and transcription 

With Microsoft Teams meetings, you can enable translation and transcription services for your meetings. As someone who is hard of hearing this helps me significantly. 

Meeting policies 

You should set policies before you run meetings, webinars, or live events to ensure that your organization allows the right level of communication to and from the attendees. You may not want to have 1,000 users participants be allowed to take themselves off mute.   

Different parts of the world have different levels of tolerance for speaking out of turn, having pets barking, disciplining their children, etc. I have an endless list of things that I’ve seen and heard during my time providing and attending meetings. The one that made me cringe the most, however, was when someone took their mobile phone to the toilet. Yikes!

Thankfully, Microsoft Teams allows meeting organizers to mute all attendees. You can also provide text-based questions and answers, to which you can respond to privately or publicly. 

Microsoft Teams let you disable all attendee mics or cameras
Microsoft Teams let you disable all attendee mics or cameras (image credit: Microsoft).

Another key way of ensuring attendees get the most out of a meeting is to ensure that everyone is on their camera. Microsoft Teams supports intelligent cameras, which use picture-in-picture technology to separate people who are in a physical meeting room into their own video stream. This feature allows presence parity to those outside of the meeting room.   

Meetings are often dominated by people in the meeting room and not other participants at home. When all participants have their own individual camera feed, it breaks up the room for those outside of it. It’s best if everyone is in view as this allows remote participants to understand who says what. And a majority of what we say isn’t just what we say, it’s also how we say it.  

How to choose between Microsoft Teams meetings, live events, or webinars

Microsoft Teams meetings, live events, and webinars all have their own different purposes. It’s important to understand the differences between them as it will help your organization choose the most appropriate video conferencing format.

Microsoft Teams meetings 

Microsoft Teams meetings differ from webinars and live events because they allow for multiple people to speak at the same time. Microsoft Teams meetings allow for audio, video, and content sharing for up to 1000 people – if this goes beyond the 1000 people threshold, then additional participants will be view-only attendees.   

People who attend a Microsoft Teams meeting don’t need to be a member of the scheduling organization or even have a Microsoft Teams account, they just need access to the meeting link. They can join directly from their Outlook calendar or from their phone if they have a dial-in conferencing telephone number and ID.   

The administrators of a Microsoft 365 tenant can configure some key attributes within the meetings.  These settings are made available through different policies, which you can apply to groups, a single person, or the organization. 

In addition to traditional ad-hoc and scheduled meetings, you can also hold channel meetings to invite everyone in a team to a meeting. Meeting profile settings and what can be configured for them can be found in the links below. 

Article Description 
Meeting settings Describes how to configure meeting settings for anonymous users, meeting invitations, and media traffic. 
Meeting policies Describes how to create and manage the policies that determine which features are available to meeting participants. 
Manage Teams cloud meeting recording Describes how to manage meeting recordings. 
Manage your organization’s devices Describes how to manage your organization’s devices, such as phones and Teams Rooms. 
Use real-time telemetry to troubleshoot poor meeting quality Describes how to use Real-Time Analytics (RTA) to troubleshoot poor Microsoft Teams meeting quality for individual users. 

Microsoft Teams webinars 

Microsoft Teams webinars are another form of Teams meeting, but the difference is how you want attendees to engage with presenters. Webinars include a registration form that attendees must use to register. This registration form acts as an attendance tracker and it can be customized to capture any data that might be useful to you, such as what department the attendee is from.  

Links to the registration form can be sent out or advertised to relevant parties, and attendees will receive a meeting link upon registering. 

Microsoft Teams live events 

Microsoft Teams live events are organized meetings that enable the people within your tenant to schedule and produce events that will be streamed to a large online audience that can include up to 20,000 people. Live events can be highly choreographed with different roles and responsibilities, and the audience interaction is a managed Q&A experience.  

Live events require a bit of planning, and the licensing requirements can be a bit different. To organize a live event, you need Microsoft or Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 license, [or] a Microsoft or Office 365 Education A3 or A5 license. 

To produce or present, you need a Microsoft or Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 license, [or] a Microsoft or Office 365 Education A1, A3, or A5 license. The exception to this requirement is that guest users can present without a license if the other criteria for guest users are met. 

Microsoft Teams live events can be scheduled like regular meetings
Microsoft Teams live events can be scheduled like regular meetings (image credit: Microsoft).

If you would like to record the session and then stream it outside of your organization to an external app or device, you’ll need to make sure that you have a Microsoft Stream License too. However, there is a change scheduled for dropping Microsoft Stream in favor of OneDrive for Business and SharePoint for meeting recordings, but it will be a phased approach. 

Microsoft Teams live events are currently not available for Government Community Cloud (GCC)-H or Department of Defence (DOD) tenants. For the rest of the world, if you’re in North America, Central America, South America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Africa, live events in Teams should largely work.

Organizations that are security aware should also know that the data for live events will reside in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE, and the United Kingdom. What this means is that the person who created the live meetings can spin up the Microsoft 365 tenant so that the data/meeting/content has a residence in that geography.   

Licensing Requirements for Microsoft Teams meetings, webinars, and live events  

Anyone can attend a Teams Meeting, webinar, or a live event for free. There’s never a license requirement to attend a Microsoft Teams video conference. 

If you want to schedule, organize, and host a meeting, then you’ll need a Microsoft 365 license. The fact is if you’re using Teams already, you probably have the right level of license. However, you’ll want to check back against the Microsoft Teams service description.   

If you’d like for people to attend your meetings from a phone as a dial-in conferencing user, this requires a license too. The good news is that this is being included for most users shortly as part of their traditional package. This was known as the PSTN Audio Conferencing Add-in

Summary

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, it’s safe to expect hybrid meetings to become the new norm for organizations. Fortunately, Microsoft Teams offers three different video conferencing options with meetings, webinars, and live events. We hope that you now have a better understanding of each format, though Microsoft is always adding new features to Teams and the company recently introduced a new Teams Premium SKU.

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