There are two main improvements to Teams meetings announced this month, the most significant of which is the ability to create “breakout rooms ” during a meeting - a facility that has been available in competitor products such as Zoom for a while. Breakout rooms are useful when you are running workshops for example, and want to break the attendees into separate groups to hold discussions or to work together for a short period.
The second meeting improvement is the ability to suppress background noise, which will be relevant as more of us move back to working from home, where it is more difficult to control the environment in which a meeting is held.
Other changes to Teams include an update to the Teams App on iOS so that you can see more participants when joining via your mobile.
And, if you ever override your Teams “presence” to enable you to concentrate on a piece of work, but then forget to reset it so you are stuck forever on “Do not disturb”, then this change will come to your rescue and enable you to set a duration for the override and then the presence indicator will reset.
Over the last few months, we have been extolling the improvements to SharePoint Lists and actively encouraging more of our clients to explore their power. This month, Microsoft have added the ability to add comments to list items which other colleagues can then view. This will add greater flexibility to Lists and introduce commenting features that we are familiar with in word or Excel.
This month also sees the new “My feed web part” which can be added to modern SharePoint sites. This will provide your users with a mixture of content relevant to them, such as updated or changed documents, upcoming meetings, etc.
Finally, the major investment across the whole of the Microsoft world is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) capabilities that can be used in a variety of ways. SharePoint Syntex is one such evolution of AI. It enables your non-technical users to build models to train SharePoint Syntex to better understand and tag your content, so that it is easier to find and retrieve later, or to automatically initiate a predefined process based on the tags. This might sound big company stuff, but it is worth reviewing the announcements and looking to see if there are ways that Syntex could improve your internal management of documents to increase productivity or even security or compliance with regulations.
The “Designer” feature that has existed in PowerPoint for a while is now coming to Word Online, enabling you to easily create documents with a consistent look and feel. As well as suggesting Themes that can be applied, Designer will also suggest formatting fixes where inconsistencies are identified. This is only available in Word Online and not the desktop version.
In Word Online, Microsoft is also moving the “Open in app” command so that is under the “Mode” menu, where you can switch between Editing, Reviewing and Viewing modes. A minor change, but one that is sure to confuse a lot of people.
If you use Microsoft Forms within your company, then you can now target Forms at specific staff or internal groups. Prior to this, a Form was either available to all staff or could be used anonymously outside of your company.
Microsoft Productivity Score provides insights about how your staff are using the Microsoft 365 platform, such as how people communicate and whether there is a visible switch from email to more chat-based services. Productivity scores are compiled and grouped into different categories and are based on the services you use. Categories include Communication, Teamwork, Meetings and Mobility. These insights can help you understand and improve the adoption of the Microsoft 365 services your company has selected or help you to make the changes to working practices that you are looking to implement.
Microsoft Teams - create Virtual Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms allow meeting organisers to split main meetings into smaller sessions for focused discussions. To see the breakout rooms option within your meetings, you must turn on the new Teams meeting experience by:
You can double check that the setting is setup correctly by starting a meeting and verifying that the meeting opens in its own window. All participants must be using the latest version of Teams. As a meeting organiser, once you are in the meeting you should see the breakout room option next to the raise hand control.
Reducing background noise in Microsoft Teams meetings
Users can set the noise suppression level before a meeting. Once changed, the setting applies to the next call.
The four settings are Auto (default), Low, High, and Off. They are accessible from the profile image > Settings prior to a meeting and from More options ... > Device settings during a meeting.
When left on the default setting, Auto, the Teams app sets noise suppression based on ambient sound.
Improved Teams meeting experience on iPhone
Microsoft is improving the Teams experience on iOS devices with a new presentation mode, the ability to see more participants, and the ability to see shared content and a spotlighted participant concurrently.
Scrollable participant tray
Makes it possible to see more participants. The current default grid allows iPhone users to see up to 8 participants, and up to 9 participants on tablets. With the new scroll-able participant tray, phone users can see 15 participants, tablet users can see 20 more participants.
See your audience while presenting from phone and tablet
Currently for mobile users in a meeting with shared content, only 1 active speaker is visible. With this update, users can now see both the shared content and participant tray at the same time. In addition, Microsoft has added a visual indicator around video active speakers, and made nameplate display more accessible.
Microsoft Teams - control the duration when overriding your presence status
If you occasionally manually override your presence status, then you will be able to define how long you want a presence state to remain active. This Teams setting overrides other events like calendar meetings or calls.
Access the duration option and then select a time
Add comments to your Microsoft Lists
Your users will soon be able to add and delete comments on list items. Users can view all comments on a list item and filter between views that show comments or activity related to an item.
Users can see which list items have comments when they access the list home page.
By default, users will see a new comments pane alongside the list item form when they access a custom list. Users can toggle the comment pane visibility by clicking or tapping the comments icon . When comments hide, the pane does not collapse.
The pane will be closed by default for lists enabled by Power Apps.
Personalised "My Feed" web part for SharePoint
SharePoint pages and sites can be more relevant to individual users by adding the My feed web part. The My feed web part will show as a new option in the web part toolbox.
After it has been added to a SharePoint page, the My feed web part will show a mix of content from across Microsoft 365, based on what's likely to be most relevant to the current user at any given time. Only content that the user has permission to access will be shown.
Benefit from Artificial Intelligence with SharePoint Syntex
Microsoft SharePoint Syntex uses advanced AI and machine teaching to amplify human expertise, automate content processing, and transform content into knowledge.
SharePoint Syntex will deliver new user experiences to work with content through content centres and AI models.
SharePoint Syntex mainstreams machine teaching, enabling your experts to capture their knowledge about content in AI models they can build with no code. Your experts train SharePoint Syntex to understand content like they do, to recognise key information, and to tag content automatically. For example, a contract processing expert can teach SharePoint Syntex to extract the value of contracts, along with the expiration date and key terms and conditions.
SharePoint Syntex then uses your models to automate the capture, ingestion, and categorisation of content, extracting valuable information as metadata. Metadata is critical to managing content, and seamless integration with Microsoft Search, Power Automate and Microsoft Information Protection enable you to improve knowledge discovery and reuse, accelerate processes, and dynamically apply information protection and compliance policies. SharePoint Syntex also delivers new experiences for analysing, managing and deploying taxonomies and content types.
More from Microsoft
Automatically design your Word documents
Microsoft is introducing Designer in Word for the web, a feature which offers formatting consistency and style variety for every document. Designer helps writers create documents with a consistent look-and-feel. It provides a variety of themes to help writers create documents that better communicate ideas visually.
To access Designer, open a document in Word for the web and then select Home > Designer.
Designer also detects formatting inconsistencies. Apply formatting fixes by clicking on a button at the top of the pane or allow formatting fixes to be applied automatically when selecting a theme.
In addition, Designer will improve Word document accessibility by using semantic styles (e.g., title and headings). Designer will eventually make additional suggestions as well.
The "Open in Desktop App" button is moving in Office online products
The Open in Desktop App command is moving to the Mode menu (Editing, Reviewing, Viewing) in Office for the Web. A teaching callout from Microsoft will help people learn the new location of the Open in Desktop command.
The command in its original location
The command in its new location
Target Forms at specific users or groups
With this update, Microsoft Forms owners will be able to easily collect survey responses from specific users or security groups.
Form owners will see a new response collection option when navigating to Share > Send and collect responses. When a Form owner selects Specific people in my organisation can respond, they can then specify one or more individuals or user groups by using their email address.
Forms on the desktop
Forms on mobile
Monitoring and measuring productivity across your firm
Microsoft Productivity Score, a new analytics solution that helps you understand how work gets done in your organisation, is transitioning from preview to general availability.
Users that have the Reports Reader role or higher permissions in the Microsoft 365 admin centre will see insights on the people experiences within your organisation as it pertains to communications, content collaboration, meetings, mobility, and teamwork. They will also see insights on technology experiences as they pertain to PCs, Laptops, Mobiles, network connectivity, and Microsoft 365 Apps health.
More from Microsoft
How Microsoft Productivity Score can help you build a more resilient business
Privacy controls for Productivity Score
Author: SO365 Insights