Audio and Video Conferencing for At-home Workers

As a larger percentage of knowledge workers are working from home due to the Coronavirus, I am receiving many how to’s about conference calls and other forms of collaboration.  Many people are unaware that their Office 365 subscription gives them access to a great tool for audio and video conferencing.

Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration.

If you have a corporate account with access to the Business or Enterprise versions of Office 365, specifically; Business Essentials, Business Premium, Enterprise E1 or E3 (and others), you will be able to host Internet-based calls with up to 250 participants (with an additional $4 user license, you will be able to provide a phone number so land-line or cell phone participants can also join).

I am including instructions below so you can get up-to-speed quickly, then can rapidly schedule and host your own conference calls.

How to access Teams:

All you need is your Office 365 ID, password and a computer with access to the Internet.  It is also important that the computer has a working microphone and speakers that are enabled (a video camera is also helpful).  So, if you do not yet have the Microsoft Teams App loaded on your computer, please follow this step.  If you already have the App (in Windows 10, click on the Start button and begin typing the word “Teams”), you may skip step 1.

  1. Open your web browser and type teams.microsoft.com. Press enter.

 

 

  1. You will be asked to login with your Microsoft Online account, like the screen below. Use your Microsoft Office 365 account ID (email) and password.

 

  1. At this point you may choose to install the Teams App, or just use the browser as your app. The differences are minimal.  If you choose to install the App, there is an option from the main screen to do so.  I’ll be showing you screenshots from the Windows App below.
  1. From the right-side menu, choose “Calendar”. This will allow you to schedule your conference call, or just use the “Meet Now” option.
  1. See the two options in the shot below? Let’s choose, New Meeting.  This will allow us to schedule participants to a meeting of two or more.

 

 

  1. The New Meeting dialog pops up to allow you to set your meeting up for a future time. Just fill it out.  When you’re finished, just click Send.  Your request will be sent as a Meeting Request to your participants.

  1. The Meeting will be added into your Teams Calendar, but it will also be added to your Outlook Calendar. Recipients that accept the Meeting request will have the meeting in their Calendar as well.

 

  1. As mentioned previously, Audio Conferencing is an add on feature. This simply means that without that feature, Meeting planners will only be able to host computer audio (and video).  The phone number you see in the shot displayed above will not be there if you do not have Audio Conferencing.  The Audio Conferencing subscription is only necessary for the Meeting planner, not the participants.

 

  1. All your participants are going to click on the “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” link in the Meeting Request. That’s it!  You thought it was going to be tough!  Try the smartphone app as well and a headset can improve sound quality, although I do not use one and don’t get any complaints.  Also, you’ll find that there is a screen sharing option once your in a call with participants.  You’re ready to host your own calls now!

Additional Microsoft Teams Video Training opens in a new windowcan be found here.