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Microsoft Teams webinars
During the spring 2021 Microsoft Ignite event, Microsoft announced Microsoft Teams webinars. You can view the session on-demand here and the Teams blog announcement here. This also ties in with Microsoft 365 roadmap item 80099 among others.
Hold on a second ... I thought you already could use teams for webinars? Yes, but there are a few features missing. For example, the ability to set up registration prior to the event, to create an email campaign based off the registration and attendance of the event, managing attendee’s audio or video, the ability to limit the chat feature for attendees in a typical meeting event, use Q&A, the list goes on and on.
For a video overview of this topic, press play below. Otherwise, continue reading.
Some of these features are available in Teams meetings, others in Teams live events. In some cases, you'll still need to use third-party tools in order to deliver a webinar experience comparable to some competitors. If you create a Teams meeting you can invite presenters and attendees as well as guests, but how do you add the guest list? Do you have a list that you've created from elsewhere? Are you manually entering in guest names or sharing the link via another service such as Meetup or Eventbrite? Do you have a third-party solution that you use as a way to register guest for the “Teams webinar?”
Microsoft Teams also supports Live Events. Live events provide a more webinar-based experience but with more technical overhead.
Teams live events is an extension of Teams meetings, enabling users to broadcast video and meeting content to a large online audience. Live events are meant for one-to-many communications where the host of the event is leading the interactions and audience participation is primarily to view the content shared by host. The attendees can watch the live or recorded event inYammer, Teams, or Stream and can interact with the presenters using moderated Q& A or a Yammer conversation.
In live events, organizers schedule the live event and add producers and presenters. Producers start and stop the event, queue presenters and shared content ahead of broadcasting live, and moderate the Q&A from the audience reviewing questions before publishing and answering questions. In many cases, especially for those of us that are working to deliver webinars solo, running a live event proves to be slightly more difficult than a regular teams meeting. For example, if you're not the organizer of the live event you cannot produce and present at the same time, requiring two people to run the live event.
This is where Microsoft Teams webinars seeks to fill a need. Teams webinars are based on Microsoft Teams meetings but are not quite as complicated to deliver as a teams live event. Teams webinars allow you to setup an event registration page, view the registration report, send email confirmation, manage presenter and attendee roles, work with large audiences, and more. Teams meetings currently support up to 300 participants, webinars will increase this to 1,000 attendees with full interactivity, and up to 20,000 with a view-only experience.
Create a webinar
Let’s look at how to setup and deliver a Microsoft Teams webinar.
From the Team’s calendar, select the drop down next to New Meeting and select Webinar.
Choose Require registration link. To require registration, choose between None, For people in your org and guests, or For everyone.
Next, customize the registration form. Select View registration form.
This is the form attendees will fill out to register for the webinar. You can provide Event details such as the event title, date and time, and description. You can also add speaker names and speaker bios to the registration form. As attendees sign up for the webinar, they’ll need to provide their first name, last name, and email address all of which are required fields. As the webinar organizer you can add additional fields and questions to the form. Unfortunately, there are no options applying themes or custom layouts.
May 2021 update: You can add company logos and images!
When you have completed the Event details and Register for this event options you can View in browser to preview the form as an attendee.
Both the registration form and preview screens have an option to Copy registration link. Copy this link to include in email, messages, social media, web pages, or wherever you advertise your events to advertise the webinar and to accept user registrations. There’s also an option to View in browser.
Upon returning to Microsoft Teams, you can complete the webinar meeting invite. You can invite additional presenters, either required or optional, just like a Team’s meeting. Click Send to send the webinar invite to the additional presenters.
Once potential attendees access the link for the webinar, they’re redirected to the webinar form to view Event details and Register for this event. First name, last name, email, and any additional fields the organizer as added to the form will be required to register for the webinar. Upon clicking Register now the attendee receives a confirmation for the event. See you at the event!
Attendees also receive a confirmation email using the email address they used to register for the event and an .ics file (a calendar appointment file that works with most calendar apps) to add the event to their calendar. Click Join event to join the webinar.
Attendees will be presented with options to access the webinar via Microsoft Teams desktop app or continue in the web browser. As an attendee the experience will be the same in either the desktop app or web browser.
Much like a Team’s meeting the attendee can adjust audio and video settings prior to joining the webinar. Click Join now to continue to the webinar lobby.
Once attendees have joined the lobby the meeting organizer can admit attendees one-by-one or admit all.
Currently, there are no options in Microsoft Teams for a customized lobby experience featuring audio or video while attendees wait for the event to start. Microsoft MVP Tracy Van Der Schyff has a great tutorial on Creating a Microsoft Teams Live Events Lobby Screen on YouTube. You can do the same for Teams meeting and webinars.
Once the attendee has joined the webinar the experience is very similar to a normal Teams meeting. They’ll have access to meeting controls, chat, reactions, and raise hand. Attendees can use their video, mute or unmute their audio, and share content. Webinar organizers can use Meeting Options to limit what an attendee can do during the event.
Presenters of the webinar will have a presenter experience like a Teams meeting. Presenters can manage participants and chat, see audience reactions, view raised hands, start/stop the webinar recording, and use breakout rooms. They’ll also have video, audio, share content, and meeting controls. Single question polling is available in the chat as well.
At the time of this blog’s publishing breakout rooms are supported.
Meeting options can be access during the webinar as well. This allows the presenter to control the lobby and admit attendees to the webinar. They can manage attendee’s roles such as promoting an attendee to presenter. This is helpful if an attendee has a technical question during the event - they can use their mic and video to ask their question so everyone can hear it and the presenter can answer. Presenters can also manage the settings for allowing attendees to unmute, allowing meeting chat, and allowing reactions depending on the requirements of the webinar.
Organizers can download the webinar registration at any time. In the Excel file you’ll find registration page views and a detailed list of participants. Currently, there are no options to manage registrations prior to the webinar such as deleting a registration or preventing a registered user from attending. Organizers can manually approve or reject attendees by using the lobby feature to prevent users from attending but this adds additional responsibilities as the event gets underway.
Finally, webinars cannot be associated with Teams channel meetings.
Upon conclusion of the webinar, the event organizer can access the attendee report. The report shows attendee participation such as who attended and how long they participated. According to Microsoft, “Attending reporting will available to download this month, and additional reporting capabilities within Teams will be available next quarter.” Microsoft also announced, “coming soon, following a Teams webinar, customers can connect to Dynamics 365 Marketing to deliver a range of marketing activities, from basic follow-up communications to more sophisticated relationship marketing campaigns.”
According to Microsoft, these capabilities will be available to users with the following licenses: Office 365 or Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Business Standard/Business Premium. For the rest of 2021, Microsoft is offering temporary availability to Teams users to try the features with their existing commercial subscription.
During testing I noted a few features I’d like to see implemented in Team’s webinars in future updates.
• Q&A feature like in Teams live events
• Multi-question polling using Microsoft Forms
• Confirmation email customization for company branding, themes, and logos.
• Manage registrations prior to the event to control attendance.
• Custom lobby with waiting room audio, video, countdown timer, pre-event FAQ.
Update May 2021: Teams webinars now supports registration form customization for including company logos and images.
Team’s webinars are a nice start to using Teams for more than meetings especially for those organizations that need to deliver web seminars but don't want to deal with the nuances of Teams live events. Webinars support some features from Teams meetings and live events. Hopefully, Microsoft will continue to incorporate features from both as Teams webinars mature. Teams webinars introduce registration forms and confirmation emails - features some consider way overdue. Additional options for managing attendee's audio, video, chat, and reactions are supported at launch. For larger webinars, Teams will support 1,000 attendees with full interactivity, and up to 20,000 with a view-only experience.
At the time of publication Microsoft Teams webinars are in the process of rolling out for General Availability Microsoft Teams Web Desktop Worldwide (Standard Multi-Tenant) April CY2021 Microsoft 365 Roadmap | Microsoft 365. Features mentioned here are subject to change. Features referenced in this article were live at the time of publication in a Microsoft 365 tenant using an E5 license with the user account set to Targeted Release, or announced here or here or here.