Pagoda Blog

11 Microsoft Team Features That Will Improve Engagement & Collaboration

November 3, 2022

Microsoft Teams is an online collaboration tool that includes messaging, file sharing, and virtual meetings. Teams has a suite of helpful features to make it easier and more enjoyable to hold virtual meetings with your team members. You might even find that a remote meeting held through Teams encourages more engagement and collaboration than traditional in-person meetings. Experiment with these 11 features to make your virtual meetings a highly effective way for team members to generate and share ideas, stay apprised of important company updates, and even cultivate a positive company culture.   


1. Spotlighting

One of the biggest problems with virtual meetings is video call burnout. This burnout is in part caused by looking at a sea of faces in little rectangles on your screen. It’s exhausting and anxiety-producing to not have a single face to make eye contact with or focus your attention on. Fortunately, spotlighting remedies this problem. The organizer of a meeting can choose who to spotlight and that person will appear enlarged at the top of the screen. This feature allows the organizer to spotlight up to seven people at once (if there are multiple people presenting, for example) and allows the organizer to easily switch between spotlights throughout the meeting. 


2. Presenter mode 

When someone is presenting slides, Teams offers four different modes to choose from. 


  • Content-only shows only the slides
  • Side-by side shows the presenter’s face next to the slides
  • Standout keeps you centered in the screen and simply replaces your background with the slides
  • Reporter shows the slides above the shoulders of the presenter who is positioned off to the side 


3. Meeting reactions 

As someone is presenting or simply sharing ideas in a meeting, those listening can share their reaction through five different emojis. When you click your chosen emoji, it bubbles up across the screen, much like the reactions you can share while watching an Instagram Live video. A particularly helpful reaction is the raised hand. If someone has a question during a presentation they can use the raised hand and it will put them at the top of the screen so the host doesn’t miss it. Use the following shortcut to ‘raise your hand’ and then retype the shortcut to put it down again: 

Control + shift + K

4. Breakout rooms 

Breakout rooms are a great way to allow for smaller groups to collaborate within a larger meeting. Especially with larger teams it can be intimidating for individuals to speak up and share their opinion in front of the entire company. Breakout rooms give employees the opportunity to collaborate, brainstorm, and share in a more intimate setting. This can encourage participation from those who are typically quiet in the all-hands meetings and allows time for everyone to speak. 


5. Together mode

Together mode is a fun way to virtually bring people together into the same room — virtually that is. Teams offers a variety of virtual venues such as a coffee shop, kitchen, conference room, amphitheater, and lecture hall. By using this feature, everyone in the meeting will appear within the chosen scene, making it appear that all attendees are sitting together in the same space. Even though attendees aren’t actually in the same room, just seeing everyone sitting side by side in actual chairs, rather than isolated rectangles, creates a more relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Try it out and see if it improves engagement and connection amongst your team members.    


6. Live transcription 

Live transcription provides real-time captioning of the speaker during a meeting. There’s also a transcript sidebar which shows all past captions from that meeting with speaker attribution. This is helpful for team members who arrive late or for anyone that simply wants to confirm a statement said earlier in the meeting. 


7. Virtual whiteboards 

Physical whiteboards feel archaic in comparison to the features available with Teams’ virtual whiteboards. Use them more like a traditional whiteboard, drawing arrows and shapes and text with everyone in the meeting able to participate. You can also drag and drop images and video or use templates so you don’t have to start with an entirely blank page. 


8. Content from camera 

If you want to share an object in your physical space during a meeting, content from camera enhances that object making it easier for attendees to see. If you’re showing a physical whiteboard (although truly the virtual whiteboards have so much more to offer), this feature even fades your hand or arm, making it slightly transparent, as you write or point out items of importance.  


9. Loop components

Loop components are simply things like lists, tables, and agendas that meeting participants can actively fill out together during a meeting. This is a great way to get attendees to engage and to ensure something like a to-do list includes all necessary action items for every team member. A loop component created during a meeting is automatically saved to OneDrive so you can continue editing it post meeting. 


10. Meeting polls 

Meeting polls are another great way to encourage engagement. Send a poll during a meeting to quickly get everyone’s feedback anonymously on a topic. This is a much more effective way to get unfiltered feedback than asking team members to share their opinion in front of everyone — especially leadership — where they might hold back.  


11. Meeting recap 

If you miss a meeting or just need a reminder of all that was discussed, Teams automatically saves all elements of every meeting so you can revisit the content at a later date. These elements include video, transcriptions, any created loop components, and shared files. The host also receives a copy of the attendance report.   


Once you know about all the features Microsoft Teams has to offer, you can really elevate your meetings, improving both engagement and collaboration. Teams is just one example of how technology can improve collaboration in the workplace — especially for remote teams. Make sure you leverage this online communication tool so that your remote team feels more connected. 


Feature photo by Surface on Unsplash


Related posts: 

Microsoft Teams vs Sharepoint: The Best Choice for Your Business

What You Need to Know About Windows 11


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