Every meeting in a modern workplace should include an option to attend online. In a Microsoft modern workplace, this means making every meeting a Microsoft Teams meeting. By all means, continue to hold in-person meetings in meeting rooms, cafe’s, break-out areas and more. Just include the Microsoft Teams details in the invite so that if the situation changes for anyone invited, they still have an option to attend remotely.
Adding online meeting details is an act of inclusion. In a team where members are geographically dispersed, online meetings are a necessity. But when the attendees are from the same office, it’s assumed that they will attend in person. What if an attendee needs to extend their time on site with a customer and can’t travel back to the office in time? They can still add value to the meeting if they attend from the customer’s site. Sometimes a team member needs to work from home to look after a sick family member or be present for a tradesperson for repairs in the home. Plans change. That shouldn’t prevent attendees from attending.
A Teams meeting adds a few other advantages in addition to attending in person.
- Record the meeting for those who can’t attend in-person or remotely.
- Make notes in the meeting, add comments in chat, share documents and resources. Then the absent attendee can catch up with the conversation and respond to the thread.
- Loop in subject matter experts and decision makers during the meeting if their input is needed and they are available.
- Invitees can start the conversation early, even days before the meeting, sometimes making decisions ahead of time and potentially reducing the need for a meeting.
It costs nothing to add Teams meeting details to a meeting invite. But for the few seconds it takes to add an online meeting option, it establishes a persistent place for ongoing discussion and shared information.
Add to a new or existing meeting invite
You are probably in the habit of creating invites by selecting a timeslot in your calendar that’s convenient for most invitees, and selecting ‘New Meeting’. I always recommend using the ‘Scheduling Assistant’ view to check availability of invitees calendars you have access to. Even when it’s an online meeting, meetings still run over time and it’s considerate to avoid booking back to back meetings.
The habit to form now is only one click away – click ‘New Teams Meeting’, every time. If it wasn’t the first button you clicked to create the meeting (more on that later), add the Teams meeting details as soon as you can. It should occur to you as soon as you plan a ‘Location’ for the meeting. Before choosing a room or tapping in a physical address, click ‘New Teams Meeting’. Add the physical location for the meeting if needed. Lastly, you might mention briefly in the body of the meeting invite that the Teams meeting details are optional.
When choosing a physical location such as a room from the address list, choose a room that has a conference phone, camera too if possible. I have begun to keep a Jabra USB conference speaker in my laptop bag to ensure I can always provide good audio for online meetings I organise or participate in.
If you have organised meetings and already sent out the invites, you can add Teams meeting details and send the update. As you do, confirm that you have still included the physical location you planned to use.
Create a new Teams meeting invite in one click
If you want to start adding Teams meeting details to every invite, the best habit to develop is selecting the timeslot in your calendar (1) and using ‘New Teams Meeting’ (2) to create the meeting invite. This creates a new invite and adds the Teams meeting details (3) in one click. Then continue to add the remaining details to the invite.
Add Teams meeting details using Outlook on the Web
The one-click option is only available in Outlook for Windows / Mac. Outlook mobile and Outlook on the Web provide a toggle switch to add Teams meeting details.
Outlook on the Web’s calendar displays a quick edit view for creating appointments and meetings fast. As soon as a timeslot is chosen, the quick edit view is displayed. But it doesn’t show the ‘Teams meeting’ switch for adding Teams meeting details. Use ‘More options’ to open the full meeting invite and add the Teams meeting details.
Create from Teams, it’s a Teams meeting
If you’re working within Microsoft Teams and you organise a meeting using it’s Calendar app, it’s going to add Teams meeting details every time. You can still add a physical room or location (1) to meet, in addition to being an online meeting.
Another option to consider is holding the Teams meeting within a channel in a Team (2). This sends the meeting invite to all Team members and means it’s open to any Team member to attend. If you haven’t established an open meeting culture in your team where appropriate, it can be confusing for Team members to receive a meeting invite. Today, Microsoft Teams lets you invite specific people to a meeting in a Team channel, naming them specifically in the To: line. Everyone else in the Team will be invited because the invite is sent to the Team name. But their names wont be explicitly added to the invite. It’s my opinion that Team members who haven’t been invited specifically are optional for the meeting. I think Microsoft should change the meeting invite to add the Team name to the ‘Optional’ field of a Teams meeting invite. This sends a clearer signal that if you aren’t explicitly named, the meeting is optional.
Further benefits are that chat that is posted in the meeting conversation thread before, during and after the meeting is available for all Team members. File attachments, meeting notes, whiteboards, meeting recordings all become part of the Teams meeting conversation thread. It creates one place to go and engage with the meeting.
Add Teams meeting details to every meeting
The benefits are clear. It’s an inclusive move. As I finish this post I must add that I’m writing during the outbreak of the Corona virus (Covid-19). There’s much concern as it spreads and some organisations are sending their people home to work from home, particularly in cities where confirmed cases have risen. This tip has taken on increased significance. Online meetings and phone calls will be the main method for real time face-to-face engagement with their team members. Keep in touch with one another, frequently. Between scheduled meetings, consider using the ‘Meet Now’ feature to bring team members together quickly, even if just for an encouraging group discussion to replace the coffee chat you may have had in person.
I’ll share a few tips in my next video and post about maintaining team and organisational engagement, leveraging Microsoft Teams.