Webinar Highlights: Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to enhance Project Management – Video and Audio Calls

Please find below a highlights from Dharmesh Patel’s session, Leveraging Office 365 and Microsoft Teams for Project Management, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

In the previous article, we discussed the Office 365 Microsoft Teams chat feature as a powerful tool for Project Management, and touched on how the effectiveness of communication can be affected by the communication medium. According to data published in the March 2022 issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, “excessive use of text-based communication—including email and instant messaging—for complex tasks such as negotiating, decision-making or problem-solving, can lower a person’s interest and performance on work started after the conversation is finished.” This reiterates the necessity for communication over video and audio, not only between Project Managers and team members, but stakeholders too. 

Although PMI considers electronic communication as informal, and in-person as formal, communication between team members and project managers tends to be more informal in nature as opposed to communication between Stakeholders and Project Managers. Microsoft Teams provides valuable tools for Project Managers, to improve informal communication within a project, and formal communication between Project Managers and Stakeholders.

Microsoft Teams Video and Audio tools

Quick Call

A call in Microsoft Teams is essentially a Teams meeting, with the restriction of video transmission. The quick call feature is perfect for informal communication between team members, as text-based communication is more open to perception and interpretation errors.  Starting a call is the same as starting a video meeting. So, how do you start a call in Microsoft Teams?

There are various different ways to start a call in Microsoft Teams. If you are already in a chat with someone, you can simply start a call by clicking on the call icon in your dialogue box, which is located on the top right of your screen. Once another participant accepts this call, a dialogue box will open with the familiar Teams meeting interface. There, you have the option to convert the call into a video call, by simply clicking the video button, allow the Microsoft Teams App to access to your camera, and transmit video. Within a call, you have the same functionality as within a meeting, like sharing your screen, by clicking on the up arrow next to the call prompts. If you are the organizer of the call, you will have permission to share your screen, but will have to grant the attendees permission.

Ms Teams Command Box
MS Teams Command Box

You can also create a group call, by clicking on the pencil icon within your chat panel, on the left-hand side of your screen. After clicking the new message icon, type in the names of people you would like to have a group call with, and click enter. Within the group chat, you can start the group call by clicking the call button.

Scheduling a call

When planning a meeting with stakeholders or discussions about more formal topics, or even recurring meetings, you may want to schedule your meeting in advance. You can schedule a call by clicking on the calendar icon in the tab located on the left side of your app.

Simply click on the day and time of your preferred call. When you click on the time on your preferred date, a prompt will open to customize the details of the meeting. These include adding a title, adding attendees, the option to select if this is a one-off meeting or recurring meeting, adding the meeting to a channel, providing the meeting location if it is a physical meeting, and a text box to provide any further information regarding the meeting.

Adding Meeting Details
Dialogue Box

Next to the details tab in this dialogue box, you will find the option to select the scheduling assistant. The scheduling assistant offers a visual view of when attendees are available. When you click on the save button in the top right corner, the meeting will populate in your calendar. The attendees will be notified of the meeting invite, and will have the option to accept the meeting request.

Configuring Call Settings

It’s possible to say that most of us have been in a meeting where someone discovers they are unable to hear meeting attendees, or that meeting attendees are unable to hear them. Reducing the time spent troubleshooting errors during the time allocated for meetings is an example of how Project Managers can ensure effective communication. Configuring your laptop or PC before a meeting can reduce unforeseen situations that can eat away at your productivity.

To configure your device for calls and meetings, navigate to the ellipsis icon on the top right-hand side of your Teams app, and click the ellipsis icon. Then click on Settings >  Devices, to bring up the following prompt. Here you can configure your device to use either 3rd party peripherals, like your Apple AirPods, or your preferred output (speakers), and also decide your preferred input device for recording your audio. Once you have configured your preferences, you can make a test call to determine if everything is up to standard. Another thing to configure before a meeting is to ensure that you have given Microsoft Teams disk permission, if you plan on sharing anything from your local device, and camera permissions, if you intend on transmitting video. For instructions, see:  How To Give Disc Permission.

Configuring call settings in teams
Configuring call settings in Teams

Microsoft Teams Features

Live Caption Translations

One of the challenges brought on for Project Managers by globalization is the appropriate management of interculturality. Effective management of a multicultural team depends largely on having good communication between the project manager and the project team.

Effective management of a project extends to good communication between Project Managers and Stakeholders. Although there are many reasons for communication breakdowns, more often than not, it comes down to language. Today, stakeholders and team members may be from any country in the world. This may mean that things (like slang) could get lost in translation, resulting in deterioration of relationships, or failure of projects. One feature that helps bridge that gap is the Microsoft Teams Live Caption Translation feature.

Live Caption Translation is a feature that allows Microsoft Teams to detect and translate speech in a live meeting. Live Caption Translation can help project managers bridge possible language barriers, when conducting meetings with stakeholders and shareholders from different backgrounds or countries. If you are speaking to someone from Spain, and they are speaking Spanish, it would translate the speech in real time into English, allowing for better understanding, and making the meeting as inclusive as possible. 

Another neat thing about this feature is the ability to turn on speaker attribution, which allows Microsoft Teams to distinguish between speakers, and attribute speech in real time. This makes it easier for attendees to distinguish who is saying what. Attendees do have the option to turn off speech recognition, and not have their text attributed to them. 

How to turn on captions in Teams
How to turn on captions in Teams
Settings in MS teams
Settings in MS teams

To turn on Live Captions within a meeting, simply click on the ellipsis in your toolbar, then scroll down to click “Turn On Live Captions.” Once captions have been turned on, you have the option to change the language of your captions. To change the language of captions (and also the language of transcripts), click on the ellipsis and select “Change Spoken Language.” It’s important to note that this option changes the language for everyone.

Teams Live Captions

To turn on Live Caption Translation, click on the “More Options” button next to the captions, and change subtitles to your preferred language.

How to turn on LIve caption Translation

Breakout Rooms

Another feature that has been introduced in meetings is something called Breakout Rooms. Traditionally, this may be where you are running a meeting for a workshop, where you are looking to have smaller breakout sessions.

Ms Teams Break Out Rooms
Ms Teams Break Out Rooms

You can create breakout rooms before or during a meeting. To open a breakout room before the meeting, click on your team’s meeting, then click on the square-within-a-square icon. Click on “Breakout Rooms,” and select “Create Rooms.” Here you can configure how many rooms you need, and assign members to rooms. The process for creating a breakout room during a meeting is the same.

Another feature is the Together Mode feature. It is probably more for informal team meetings, where it’s appropriate to have fun with the meeting by changing backgrounds. For example, you could be sitting at a virtual coffee bar, or in a library. Togetherness mode is a great option when you’re running an informal team meeting or catch-up. 

Conclusion

Effective communication, or a lack thereof, can impact relationships between Project Managers, and their team members and stakeholders. The communication tool you use can be both beneficial, and detrimental, to ensuring effective communication. Ensuring optimal use of communication tools, and establishing clear guidelines and protocols for communication, can help Project Managers streamline communication.

For more about how to use Office 365 Microsoft Teams to enhance Project Management, see our other article in this series: Webinar Highlights: Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to Enhance Project Management – Teams and Channels and Webinar Highlights: Leveraging Office 365 and Microsoft Teams for Project Management – Microsoft Teams Chat


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