December 06, 2022

Top Ten Tips: Microsoft Teams

Mark Pattie
Modern Work Practice Lead
Microsoft Teams has quickly become an integral part of many peoples’ work lives around the world. Since 2019, Teams has gained almost 250 million new users, thanks in no small part to COVID-19 and our forced shift to a hybrid environment. Many of us would not have survived the new work arrangements without the flexibility and features of Microsoft Teams.

How well do you really know Microsoft Teams?

If you’re anything like me, you spend most of your workday in Teams, either in meetings or chatting with colleagues. However, I can guarantee that it has some functionality that you didn’t know existed. New features are constantly being added and I’d be surprised if you’re up to date with all of them.

With that said, let’s dive in to my top ten tips and tricks for Microsoft Teams!

Tip #1: Focusing with Viva Insights

Work can be stressful at the best of times, particularly at the pointy end of the year when deadlines are fast approaching. The Viva Insights app for Teams is a gamechanger for helping you focus during your busy days. Simply add the app to your Teams, then navigate to the Viva Insights tab on the left. From here you can track your daily mood, participate in various mindfulness exercises or even book focus time.

Focus time finds free blocks in your Teams calendar, books them out and sets your status as Do Not Disturb for their duration. You can manually schedule these blocks as needed or set recurring focus slots under the More Options button. This can be a great way to ensure you don’t end up in back-to-back meetings all week and gives you some much needed productivity time.

Tip #2: Soft Focus & Adjust Brightness

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have beautifully lit home offices or to look perfect every day. If you’ve ever looked at your video preview in Teams and cringed, don’t fear – Teams does have some options to help.

Head to Settings > Devices, and then scroll to the Camera section. Here you can turn on Adjust Brightness which will give you brighter, more consistent lighting if you’re in a poorly lit space. You can also adjust the Soft Focus slider as necessary to help make you look your best even if you’re not feeling it. You can thank me later.

Tip #3: Save messages

It can be easy to lose track of messages in Teams, especially in high-traffic teams or chats. To save yourself having to manually search for messages that contained important information, you can instead save them to look back on later.

Simply hover over the message, click on the three dots and select Save this Message. To view your saved messages, head to your profile picture in the top right and click Saved. This is useful for privately storing any messages containing helpful links, important information or things to follow up on.

Tip #4: Tabs

If you’re not already using tabs in Teams, you should be. Tabs offer a fantastic way to organise and store information in Teams and encourage collaboration between your colleagues.

You can add tabs to Channels or Chats. Simply press the small plus icon next to chat name and select what you’d like to add. For example, you can add Excel spreadsheets or even webpages as tabs, so all members have easy access to them at the top of the page.

Tip #5: Pin messages

How often have you posted a critical message in a chat, only for it to get swallowed up by a stream of other, unrelated messages? Unfortunately, Teams can’t stop your colleagues from spamming a chat with messages, but it can help you to pin your message to the top of the page so they can’t ignore it.

Simply hover over the message, click the three dots and select Pin. You can only have one message pinned per chat, but they are easily interchangeable depending on your needs. This makes your messages harder to miss, especially in high traffic channels.

Tip #6: Meeting notes

Unless you keep a physical notebook, then you likely have meeting notes spread between various files on your computer. Teams has a better, more centralised solution that also makes sharing notes after meetings seamless.

During a meeting, click More > Meeting Notes. This will open a separate tab in Teams for you to take notes in throughout the meeting. After the meeting, the notes are available for all attendees and remain stored in the meeting files. This feature is an especially great way to store notes from recurring meetings, as the notes can all be kept under the one chat.

Tip #7: Hiding your video from yourself

For some people, seeing your own video in Teams is the equivalent of hearing your voice on a recording. It’s awkward and can be distracting in important meetings. Teams recently released a new feature where you can hide your video from yourself, but all other participants can still see you.

Simply join a meeting, hover over the three dots in the corner of your video, and select Hide from Me. You can show your video again by clicking on the arrow. Problem solved.

Tip #8: Formatting messages

In all honesty, this tip is more about aesthetics than any tangible productivity increase, but it can still be helpful to know. Teams has a variety of formatting options to let you customise your messages to your heart’s content.

When you create a new message, click on the Format icon (A with a pencil). From here, you can adjust the formatting by adding a subject line to draw attention, marking the message as important to make it stand out or adding a quote, just to name a few options.

Tip #9: Apps

Teams has a myriad of external apps that can be added to its interface, allowing you to centralise more of your work in the one program. The specific apps you have available will depend on your organisation’s licenses, and new apps are also always being added. Head to the Apps tab on the left-hand tool bar to see your options.

Some examples of popular apps in Teams include the Microsoft 365 Suite, Wiki, Tasks by Planner and To Do, Polls, Trello, Miro, Mural and Power BI.

Tip #10: Keyboard Shortcuts

As always, keyboard shortcuts are a great way to work more efficiently, and Teams has many of them. You can view a full list here, but in the spirit of this blog, here is my top ten shortcuts for the Teams desktop app:

Action Shortcut
Go to Search Ctrl + E
Start a new chat Ctrl + N
Open Chat Ctrl + 2
Open Teams Ctrl + 3
Open Calendar Ctrl + 4
Start a new line Shift + Enter
Search current chat or channel messages Ctrl + F
Toggle mute Ctrl + Shift + M
Temporarily unmute Ctrl + Spacebar
Schedule a meeting Alt + Shift + N

What’s Next?

Hopefully, you found these ten Microsoft Teams tips helpful. This is by no means a full list of the functionality in Microsoft Teams and there’s always more features being added, but these ten insights will make your work life more productive.

Are you struggling with more than just managing your Teams though? If your IT team could use a hand adopting, securing or optimising their wider Microsoft 365 investment, we’re here to help. Contact a Data#3 Microsoft 365 Specialist today for advice or to enquire about our Microsoft 365 Optimiser managed service.

Just remember – to lighten everyone’s day, always make good use of the Teams emoji reactions.