Productivity Tip: Increase Engagement with Teams Free
After speaking at M365 Twin Cities last month, I was chatting with a couple of fellow speakers in the expo hall about the now-available free version of Microsoft Teams, otherwise known as Communities in Teams, and how it could be leveraged to increase the level of engagement with event attendees. If you’re not familiar with this new version of Teams Free, check out my post that walks through the highlights of the features and key differences with the paid version of Teams.
The new Communities in Teams, now in preview, is replacing the previous free version of Teams. You do not need a Microsoft account to use the free version, and it works alongside the paid version, as I outline in my other post. But the eureka moment came just after my session as we were discussing ways to stay connected to people who attended our sessions…or who missed our session because they were divided between yours and another topic happening at the same time. Why not create a persistent chat in the free version of Teams through which you can share your slides, answer questions, and keep the conversation going?
Since anyone can join a chat via a shared link and a quick signup, it’s a great way to build and support community. For example, I speak and present on the topic of collaboration governance quite often. I can create a persistent chat on the topic of “governance” just by creating a new chat. Once in the new chat space, I can invite people already in my network, or to those outside my network with the sharing link.
Here you can see my persistent chat. I’ve sent invites to two of my other Teams profiles so that this chat is visible in whatever tenant I am using. A fellow MVP who is also interested in the topic of governance, Eric Riz (@rizinsights), has joined the chat.
By clicking on the people link at the top right, you can select and copy “Get link to chat” and send to people in an email, or include the URL in your slides so that people who attend your session can immediately join the discussion. One idea is to share this chat at the start of your session, allowing people to join and ask questions — which is great for people who might be too shy to raise a hand, or, even better, is a great way to capture questions and comments from hybrid attendees who may be watching via live stream or webinar.
I’ve also become a huge fan of using QR codes so that people can quickly visit your site or join your chat via their mobile devices. There are a number of free QR code generators out there. As you can see below, you can also personalize a link.
Add the QR code to your slides to make it easy for people to stay engaged, and keep the conversation going. My original idea was to create a persistent chat around a session at a specific event, like this one that Tom and I did at M365 Twin Cities. But when discussing the idea with Microsoft Teams Community Lead, Laurie Pottmeyer (@lauriepottmeyer), she improved on this idea by suggesting persistent chats around themes or product areas. This makes sense because you might have several sessions that touch on a particular topic….like governance. I have a half-dozen sessions in rotation on this topic, so it makes sense to have one space for all of them.
Instead of a chat, maybe you create a one-time or recurring meeting….which also includes a persistent chat. I love the idea of a monthly “office hours” session on governance for people who have attended one of my sessions.
This productivity tip is not rocket science — but it’s often the small and seemingly obvious tips that provide the largest boosts to productivity. I’m certainly going to be doing this more often.