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5 Features Released in Microsoft Teams from December 2020

Josh Logozar
January 15, 2021

While we have passed 2020, and it’s a year we want to forget, Microsoft has released some great things at the end of the calendar year. Here are 5 things that you may have missed that can make your life a little bit easier.

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We’ve looked at the things that I think are exciting for 2021, but let's take a look back at what we may have missed over the holidays and the cool ways that they can be implemented. Please note that Microsoft rolls out in batches, and some of these features may not be available to you immediately but will be in the near future.

1. Breakout Rooms

I know that we have given this a look in "What’s coming up in 2021" with the larger meeting sizes, but let's discuss what the breakout rooms actually are. It is a way for meeting organizers to divide the meeting into smaller groups to allow for networking, discussions, and brainstorming. The Organizers can jump between rooms, deliver announcements to all rooms, or bring everyone back.

This is an amazing feature to implement if you wanted to have a seminar, presenting an idea, and then breaking off into numerous rooms to discuss the idea, and even just network. When you need to bring them all back to present another idea, simply click a button to return everyone to the main room.

Image of Breakout Room settings in Microsoft Teams.

2. End of Meeting Notifications

This may seem like a minor addition to your Teams meetings, but it's definitely welcome. When there's only 5 minutes left in a meeting, you are going to get a notification banner that will appear at the top of the meeting window, which can either be manually dismissed or automatically disappear after ten seconds.

This will make sure that you are not running late for any other meetings you may have. Maybe even help return the discussion to the owner of the meeting if there is someone that has quite a few questions, or just have someone that enjoys talking.

3. Teams Meeting Pre-Join Experience

Changing which devices you want to for use the meeting used to be a bit of a hassle, requiring you to go into your settings and change the devices. Now, you get all of the options as soon as you join your meeting.

You are still going to see your camera, and decide if you want background filters, but with this update, you will also see more options such as:

  • Computer audio, which always you to select which input and output devices that you want to use;
  • Phone audio, which would be used if you were dialing out using a phone;
  • Room audio, and;
  • Don’t use audio, which will mute you entering the meeting, and you will have to unmute when you join.

This is a great way to configure your audio or allow for people to join late without disrupting the meeting already in progress.

Image of the Pre-Join Experience in Microsoft Teams.

4. New Search Relevance

Teams is constantly rolling out ways for you to be more efficient, and the first place to start is always going to be in your search feature. Search is now going to give you a "Top Results" category, which will be decided based on many active and passive signals.

It will present you with the results based on which people, channels, and teams that you are the most active on. You will then get the rest of the search result ordered chronologically, with the most recent ones at the top. This will help find the things you are looking for without having to go through each chat.

Image of relevant search results in Microsoft Teams.

5. Noise Suppression

Now, this is something that started rolling out in November, but I am going to count it, as it is an amazing feature that must not be missed! How many times have you had something going on in the background and you can’t change it? Whether it be a ceiling fan with a small squeak, someone cooking dinner in the background, or even when sharing an office with your partner.

This features uses an AI that is able to help you keep everyone focused on what you are trying to say, and less on any background noise that may be going on behind you. Simply go into your device settings, and you can choose either of the following:

  • Auto, which will monitor and activate when needed;
  • High, which suppresses all background noise that is not speech
  • Low, which suppresses low levels of background noise, or;
  • Off, which disables any sound suppressions.
Image of Noise suppression option in Microsoft Teams.

Now you have 5 things that you can either start using immediately or a few things that you can be looking forward to using in your Teams. You can always refer to the Microsoft Roadmap to know what you can expect to come up in the next weeks, months, or even year. Knowing what might come up will help you collaborate, communicate, and learn more efficiently in your Teams and SharePoint Online environment.

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