In today’s digital world, the ability to collaborate seamlessly is crucial for the success of any project or organisation.
Microsoft Teams has emerged as one of the leading tools for digital teamwork, offering an array of features designed to facilitate communication, collaboration, and overall project management.
Whether you’re joining your first virtual meeting or coordinating a large project, Teams has something for everyone.
However, for those who are new to this platform, the myriad of options can be overwhelming.
Fear not; in this guide, we’ll walk you through initial setup, basic features, advanced functionalities, and pro tips to help you use Microsoft Teams effectively.
As an experienced IT support team, we know a thing or two about this subject, so in this guide, we will aim to help you make informed decisions when it comes to selecting an IT support provider, providing insights into the factors that contribute to quality IT support services.
How Do I Use Microsoft Teams for the First Time?
Step 1: Download And Installation
First and foremost, you’ll need to download Microsoft Teams. This can be done by visiting the official Microsoft website or your respective app store on mobile devices.
Installation is straightforward—simply double-click the downloaded file and follow the on-screen instructions.
Microsoft Teams is available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Step 2: Sign In Or Create An Account
Once the installation is complete, open the application and sign in with your Microsoft Office 365 credentials.
If you’re part of an organisation that uses Office 365, your IT department may have already set up an account for you.
If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one or request an invitation link from your organisation.
Step 3: Explore the Interface
Upon successful login, you’ll land on the main interface. On the left-hand panel, you’ll see various navigation tabs such as ‘Activity,’ ‘Chat,’ ‘Teams,’ ‘Calendar,’ and ‘Files.’
Spend a few minutes exploring these tabs to understand their functionalities:
- Activity: Shows your notifications and mentions.
- Chat: Enables direct messages between you and other team members.
- Teams: Where all team-specific conversations and files are stored.
- Calendar: Displays scheduled meetings and allows you to create new ones.
- Files: Provides access to shared and personal files.
Step 4: Join Or Create A Team
The essence of Microsoft Teams is in its team-based functionalities. Click on the ‘Teams’ tab on the left sidebar and then look for a button that says ‘Join or create team.’
Follow the prompts to either join an existing team with a code or create a new team and invite members.
How Do You Use Microsoft Teams Step by Step?
Now that Teams is all set up let’s go over some of the basics for using it.
Step 1: Basic Communication
- Chat: Click on the ‘Chat’ tab to initiate direct messages. You can start a new chat by clicking the ‘New Chat’ icon at the top. You can add more people to a one-on-one chat to make it a group chat.
- Calls: To make voice or video calls, head over to the ‘Calls’ tab. Here, you can dial numbers or call people in your organisation directly.
- Meeting: Scheduling a meeting is easy. Click on the ‘Calendar’ tab and then on the ‘New Meeting’ button at the top-right corner. Fill in the meeting details and invite participants.
Step 2: Team Collaboration
- Channels: Teams are divided into channels for more specific conversations. For example, you might have separate channels for different projects or departments.
- Files: File sharing is integral to collaboration. Simply click on the ‘Files’ tab within a channel to upload or download files. Microsoft Teams also allows real-time editing of Microsoft Office files.
- Pinning: Important chats or channels can be pinned for quick access. Just right-click on the chat or channel and choose ‘Pin.’
Step 3: Advanced Features
- Task Management: Microsoft Planner is integrated into Teams for task management. You can assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress all within Teams.
- Third-Party Apps: Microsoft Teams supports integration with a plethora of third-party apps like Trello, Asana, and many others. You can add these via the ‘Apps’ tab at the lower-left corner of the interface.
Microsoft Teams Tips For Beginners
We’ve included a list of top tips that will transform you from a beginner to an expert in no time at all:
1. Keyboard Shortcuts
Utilise keyboard shortcuts for quick navigation. For example, press Ctrl + E to immediately jump to the search bar or Ctrl + Shift + M to mute a call.
2. Turn on Read Receipts
In your settings, activate read receipts to confirm when a recipient has seen your message. This adds an additional layer of communication clarity.
3. Use ‘@’ Mentions
Using ‘@’ before a person’s name in a chat or a channel will notify them directly. This is particularly useful in busy channels where key messages might get lost.
4. Bookmark Messages
For important messages that you may need to refer back to, use the bookmark feature by clicking the three dots next to the message and choosing ‘Save this message.’
5. Leverage the Power of Bots
Microsoft Teams has built-in bots like Who and T-Bot that can answer questions or perform tasks. They can help you with settings, features, and other queries.
6. Use Status Wisely
Your status (available, busy, do not disturb, etc.) communicates your availability to team members. Make sure to update it based on your actual availability to manage expectations.
7. Learn to Filter Searches
The search functionality in Teams is powerful. You can filter searches by subject, person, or date to find information quickly.
8. Set Up Notifications
Teams offer granular control over notifications. Go to settings and customise your notification preferences to avoid being overwhelmed with messages.
9. Scheduled Messages
Though not a built-in feature, there are third-party apps that allow you to schedule messages to be sent at a later time. This is useful for coordinating with team members in different time zones.
10. Use Immersive Reader
Microsoft Teams comes with an Immersive Reader feature, designed to make it easier to read posts or messages by removing distractions and focusing on the text.
This can be particularly helpful for individuals who may have learning differences or prefer a simplified interface.
11. Utilise Meeting Notes
During a meeting, you can take notes that are available for all participants to view and edit. This helps in keeping track of decisions made or tasks assigned during the meeting.
12. Record Meetings for Later
You can record your Teams meetings, and group calls to capture audio, video, and screen-sharing activity.
The recording happens in the cloud, and it is saved in Microsoft Stream so you can share it securely across your organisation.
13. Blur Your Background
Teams also provide a feature to blur your background during video calls. This can be helpful if you’re working from a location where you’d prefer to keep your background private or less distracting.
14. Use Breakout Rooms
For larger meetings, you can use breakout rooms to divide your Teams meeting into sub-groups to facilitate smaller discussions.
15. Be Mindful of Video and Audio Settings
Before joining a meeting, you’ll have the option to configure your video and audio settings. Make sure to check these to ensure you’re presenting yourself in the best possible manner.
16. Leverage the Search Function
The search bar at the top can be a powerful tool. Not only can you search for chats, channels, or files, but you can also use it to find specific content within a chat or channel.
17. Make Use of Tags
Tags can be applied to members within a Team to easily mention a subset of the team without having to mention each member individually. This is particularly useful for large teams or for differentiating roles within a team.
18. Customise Your Workspace
Microsoft Teams allows for a lot of personalisation. You can change the theme, set custom backgrounds, or even add your favourite apps as tabs for easy access.
19. Use the Mobile App
Microsoft Teams has a mobile app that’s quite robust. It’s a great way to stay connected while on the go, and it offers many of the same features found on the desktop version.
20. Explore Microsoft Teams Training
Microsoft and various other platforms offer free training courses on Microsoft Teams. These tutorials can help you dive deeper into more advanced functionalities.
Further reading: Slack vs. Microsoft Teams
Our Final Word
Mastering Microsoft Teams is essential for effective remote collaboration and communication.
This guide provided a comprehensive introduction to getting started with Teams, including how to download and install the software, familiarise yourself with the interface, and utilise both basic and advanced features.
You’re now equipped to navigate the world of Microsoft Teams efficiently, whether for simple chats or complex project management tasks.
If you’re ready to bring Teams on board for your business and you need support, get in touch.