The Best Way to Spread Meeting Cheer is Bringing in Apps from Far to Near | Teams Optimized Apps


I argue that the virtual meeting is an art, not a science, but a little science certainly helps with the art. Much like an IRL meeting, a virtual meeting’s success relies on several factors. As an organizer, you have control over much of this; a clear goal, a thoughtful agenda, engaging content, meaningful questions, and an action plan for next steps all contribute to a meeting’s success. But what you can’t control is whether your team is, in fact, engaged. So how can you help? Video sharing is a great way to gauge attentiveness and focus and help with team bonding and morale. Screen sharing, engaging the team with polls, and encouraging participation via whiteboarding exercises have all proven to liven up a meeting. So, clearly, virtual meetings need to bring in tools that can help us host the most engaging and productive experiences for our organizations. And you know what … there’s probably a Microsoft Teams optimized app for that. 😛  

These are a few of our favorite Microsoft Teams optimized apps:
 

Polly want a cracker or a wafer? 

I’m a big fan of polls. They’re a great ice breaker and often add levity to a serious topic. Polls help keep people engaged and focused, especially when we are all multitasking during a virtual meeting (guilty!) They are also incredibly useful in getting a pulse on your team, a topic, or a project. Polly provides a super simple way to manage your polls in Teams, and we’ve run them successfully during many meetings here at PixelMill. You can create your own polls and quizzes or utilize one of their many templates. Polly does offer a free version with limited responses as well as several packages for those who require more than 25 responses per month.  

Setting up Polly (or any Teams optimized meeting app for that matter) is simple! You must send the meeting invite first, and then organizers can add an app to a tab by opening up the calendar event and clicking the +.   

 

Note: If you are hosting the meeting in a channel, the app must first be added to that channel. If you are hosting a private meeting this is not an issue.  

Microsoft Whiteboard:  

We love the whiteboard feature. It’s great for brainstorming sessions and certainly helps visualize a concept. Users can work together on a shared canvas no matter their location. But remember, if you share a whiteboard during a Teams meeting that is being recorded, it will not be part of the recording. Microsoft does say they will update us when this feature will be available, which is promising, but in the meantime, you can export the image and share with your team post meeting. After a Teams meeting, its whiteboard is also available to all participants from the Teams meeting chat, in a tab labeled Whiteboard. 


Microsoft Forms
 

Much likely Polly, you can utilize Forms to get your team to take polls before, during, or after a meeting.  


These are just a few examples of the many apps available, and we are just beginning to see innovation in this area. We expect to see many more apps optimized for Teams meetings in the coming months. 
 

How to get started with Microsoft Teams Optimized Apps in Meetings?  

First and foremost we encourage you to pilot apps and fully vet them before releasing them to your organization. You should have a plan and governance in place so your team knows how you expect them to use the app. You also want to have a clear understanding of where information and content curated during the meeting lives when the meeting ends. Run through the process. Create a mock meeting, understand where information created during the meeting will be stored, and ensure it meets your privacy and retention policies.  

The future looks bright for Microsoft Teams Optimized Apps

When I worked in an office, I was a big fan of the literal ‘standing’ meeting. Everyone stands to help keep the meeting brief. This is a little more challenging to execute remotely, but the concept stands (see what I did there?). We also would take a 5 min. stretch break together at 2:30 p.m. We’d get out of our chairs, get the blood flowing, and bond as a team in a group exercise. I know Microsoft is looking to add new functionality to Teams in 2021 to aid in mindfulness and employee wellbeing. I understand some of this will include meditation, and I’d love to see some yoga flows as an option.  

What apps do you think could make your meeting experience better? Could you use some help deciding, implementing, and training your team? A PixelMill Teams expert would love to help you today! 

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