Tips and tricks for Teams Breakout rooms and event organization

I wrote previously about how to create and organize Breakout Rooms to Teams. This article follows it up with some good practices and tips that help to facilitate the event better and get a better attendee experience. Thank you all who commented and gave feedback about their methods which gave me the inspiration to pull some of that info together and add something new to this collection of tips, tricks and best practices.

  • Make sure that the meeting lobby is turned off unless it is really needed. This makes joining to meeting much more easier for all. You don’t want to be there clicking people in. If you need to control who gets to the meeting – then do the opposite and make sure lobby is on.
  • Let audience know how to turn on do not disturb mode.
    Also let them know how to change notification settings (especially about notifications to replies, channel notifications) and how to mute a meeting chat and/or conversation thread.
    The less they get notifications during the event the better they can focus. It makes sense to change notification settings for the duration of the event, especially if it is a half to full day in length.
  • If you are doing a channel meeting, make sure attendees know and understand how & why to switch to your tenant since that is required for the chat to work. A good step-by-step guide is helpful. Adding a “community”-channel is also a great addition – asking people to say hi a few days-week before the meeting. This duplicates also a test…
  • When you share documents, files, pages or notebooks: test the sharing links. If you are doing a regular(private) meeting instead of a channel meeting: share content with anonymous access links (with expiry time set to the link). Test these links and use short-links to make the sharing of links easier.
  • If you are doing a channel meeting or sharing documents from somewhere else: test with one attendee (you know) that everything works on a previous day – or just before the event at latest.
  • Have a moderation team ready and make sure everyone knows what to do. Have a group chat available for moderators / organizers only so you can quickly share information with your task-force.
  • Name Breakout room channels / meetings clearly so it includes the purpose and start time. Write messages to rooms telling when the room is active the next time / what is the room’s schedule. Use timezone in times if you have people attending from different timezone/countries.
  • Prepare a Word-document or OneNote with prewritten and formatted texts you can copy-paste to Teams chats/conversations. Use different styles (color for example) for different main topics like : general event info, schedule posts, important reminders / calls to action / polls
  • When sharing links use link labels instead of long urls
  • Prepare all polls and other data collecting in advance you can. Use links (Forms for example) if you are doing regular Teams meetings.
  • Announce next steps regularly.
  • Use moderators to make sure presenters are not missing important questions or comments. Pay attention to that if the presenter is muted (or has technical problems) he is informed about that as soon as possible.
  • Presenters should be aware about “mute everyone else” feature. Moderators can mute people they notice having a mic open. Have a quick best practices walkthrough before each session containing information like: please make sure you are muted, keep your mic muted if you are not talking so you don’t create noise that might distract the speaker or other attendees

Not every tip applies to every event. Pick the ones you think will apply to your event.

Polls and surveys

If you have ever tried adding a poll or survey to Teams regular meeting with Polly or Forms you have found out quite soon that it doesn’t work. Office 365 to the rescue!

For Teams meetings you need to create polls with , for example, Microsoft Forms. Make them quick, don’t do anything complicated. Just add 1-3 questions and get the sharing link (check if you need to allow anonymous replies or is everyone working for the same company you are in). Share the link to the chat. The great thing: these work wonderful with different clients since these are web-based.

For channel meetings you have more options. You can create a Polly-poll or , for example, Forms bot poll to the channel. However, it is good to notice that these are not available in the actual meeting: only if you go to channel conversation via teams. While you can add a Polly-poll in the meeting the poll itself is created to a new channel thread Just like with Forms-bot.

For both regular and channel meetings polls and surveys are currently best done with links to Microsoft Forms pasted into meeting chat, for example, instead of using apps for them.

Of course you can create polls with Polly or Forms into channels. However don’t rely people noticing those if they are in meetings and don’t look to channel via the regular view.

If you need to create a poll or survey to Teams Live Event –> use Microsoft Forms and paste the link to the event conversation. Again: it is good to prepare the most needed interactions and polls in advance.

7 thoughts on “Tips and tricks for Teams Breakout rooms and event organization

  1. Very good article and the previous article is a great roadmap to using break-out rooms with Teams Meetings. I do training and group interviewing and having break-out rooms is essential. It is nice to know that we can trick and spoof features of Microsoft Teams into accomplishing normal everyday tasks. The sad part is that normal everyday tasks are readily available in other meeting platforms. I hope Microsoft catches up with the market.


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