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Take a mini-break from meetings with Breakthru

Take a mini-break from meetings with Breakthru

Finally, with more and more digital meetings it is more important to pay attention to your individual workload and sense of fatigue. Microsoft have found that ensuring you get time in between meetings to take some time out, relax, and shift your focus can make a big impact to your overall sense of wellbeing, and help you stay refreshed for that final late-afternoon meeting. Breakthru is a new application in Microsoft Teams that helps you do just that – it helps you take 2-minute mini breaks with meditative exercise that can help you and your team re-energize. Whether within a meeting with colleagues, or just by yourself, you can enhance your overall well-being with these helpful restorative pauses that can help clear your mind for what comes next.

Add the Breakthru app to try it out for yourself, or within a meeting.

What’s New In Teams – January 2021

What's New In Teams - January 2021


Virtual Breakout Rooms – Breakout rooms allow meeting organisers to divide the meeting into smaller groups to facilitate discussions and brainstorming sessions. A breakout room can be created in a Teams meeting or a Teams channel meeting, allowing greater flexibility on how you want to meet. Organisers can easily jump in between breakout rooms, deliver announcements to all breakout rooms at once, and bring everyone back to the main meeting at any time. Any files from the breakout rooms can be shared in the main meeting and is available afterwards in the meeting chat. Learn more. We’re very interested in this for our Clients as we continue to work from home (for the majority) – adds another dimension.

End-of-meeting notifications

Microsoft Teams notifies the participants in a meeting when there are five minutes remaining in the scheduled meeting time. The notification appears on screen for 10 seconds and disappears without any user action. This helps you stay on track and wrap up as necessary without unintentionally running late to your next schedule. Notification is triggered for all scheduled private and channel meetings and does not cause the meeting to end automatically. Already proving a useful little feature here at Exactive where many Users are back-to-back on call’s/meetings (like most of our Clients of course!).

Teams meeting pre-join experience

We’ve already noticed an improved pre-join meeting experience for Teams meetings, including easier discovery of audio, video, and device configurations before joining a meeting. Previously, you had to go to settings to change meeting devices, but now these can be easily adjusted prior to the meeting in the pre-join experience.

Multiple Number Dialling

You can now see a split button in the chat header for audio/video calling. This displays multiple numbers for a single contact making it easier to view available numbers to initiate a call.


Restricting Windows and Mac managed device sign-in to specific tenants – You can now restrict Teams sign-in for Windows and Mac managed devices to help ensure that employees cannot sign-in to another organization’s tenant using the other tenant’s credentials from the device they are authorized to use for work. This policy can also be used to configure access to personal accounts.

Manage Teams displays in Team Admin Centre

We are adding the Teams Display as one more device category that can now be managed within Teams Admin Centre. Learn more.

Security, compliance & privacy

Only Invited Users can join directly with new Lobby Setting
A new lobby setting is coming to Teams meeting. We are adding “People I invite” as an option to the “Who can bypass lobby?” setting. Once enabled, only the participants invited by the organizer in the meeting invite can join the meeting directly. Everyone else is sent to the lobby.

Customer Key for Teams available for public preview

Customer Key support for Microsoft Teams is now available for public preview! Customer Key is an added layer of encryption and is already available in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive. Learn more.

Accessibility features for Microsoft Teams Meetings

Accessibility tips for inclusive Microsoft Teams meetings and live events

Tips for organizers

As a meeting or live event organizer you are responsible for planning and scheduling the meeting or event. You also create the live event, and set up the permissions for the attendees and the group that manages the event. Consider the tips below to organize an inclusive meeting or live event.

For more info on the organizer role in a Microsoft Teams live event, refer to Teams live event organizer checklist.

Plan for an inclusive meeting or live event

  • When planning for a meeting or event, ask the participants which type of accessibility they need. You can include this question on a registration form, for example.

  • For a live event, consider using a production crew that can provide multiple camera feeds, so the speaker’s camera is also visible to the audience. This enables people who are lip readers to follow along.

  • Make sure there is adequate lighting on the person speaking. People who read lips need to see the speaker’s lips.

  • Suggest that speakers wear dissimilar colors to their skin tone so the contrast will be high. Otherwise the lighting can wash out people’s faces and make reading lips difficult.

Gather and share the material

  • To make it easier for everyone to follow the presentations in a meeting or live event, ask the presenters to deliver the content they’ll be sharing in advance if possible. Remind the presenters that their material should be accessible. Make the links to the material available to the audience before the meeting or event.

  • Make sure the short aka link to the material is displayed on the opening slide of the presentation and in the event announcements leading up to the broadcast.

  • Make sure the materials are available also after the meeting or live event including the meeting or event recording.

Provide info on how to access the meeting

  • Let the participants know how to access the meeting or event with alternative means, for example, keyboard shortcuts or voice assistance.

    For detailed info, go to Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams and Use a screen reader to join a meeting in Microsoft Teams. For voice control info, refer to Using Cortana voice assistance in Teams and Windows Speech Recognition commands.

  • Provide a direct link to join the live event for those who can join using their computer or smart device. However, it is important to remember that some individuals may not have easy access to the Internet. Make sure the dial-in number is included in the invitation along with the link to your meeting.

  • Select the easy access options to let people join a meeting in progress from within a Microsoft Teams meeting. We are making it easier for meeting organizers to quickly and easily change their presenter and lobby settings once a Microsoft Teams meeting starts by providing an easy to access link directly in the participants pane. This new functionality will be available for both the scheduled and Meet Now instant meetings.

Include live captions

Microsoft Teams can detect what’s said in a meeting or live event and present real-time captions, also known as CART (Communication access real-time translation). Live captioning provides everyone an equal opportunity to access and enjoy the meeting or event.

  • In a Microsoft Teams meeting, you can use the live captions straight from the meeting window. For instructions, refer to Use live captions in a Teams meeting.

  • When scheduling a Microsoft Teams live event, select the Captions option in the language you will be speaking and up to 6 additional languages to reach an even broader audience. For instructions, refer to Use live captions in a live event.

    Dialog box to select the QA option for Teams live event when scheduling an event.

Include Q&A

In a Microsoft Teams live event, the attendees can type their questions to the Q&A pane to interact with the event team and participate in the event. When scheduling a live event, select the Q&A option to include the feature in your event.

Dialog box to select the QA option for Teams live event when scheduling an event.

For more info, refer to Schedule a Teams live event and Participate in a Q&A in a live event in Teams.

Share the meeting or live event recording

  • When you’re scheduling a live event, select the relevant recording options to make the recording available for everyone.

    Dialog box to select recording options for a Teams live event when scheduling the event.

    For more info, refer to Schedule a Teams live event.

  • Share the recording and other materials after the meeting or live event so attendees can review them on their own time. Ensure recordings of the event have accurate time synced closed captions.

Tips for producers

As the Microsoft Teams live event producer, you’re the host who controls the live event stream to make sure the attendees can enjoy a smooth event experience. For instructions on how to produce a live event, refer to Produce a live event using Teams and Best practices for producing a Teams live event.

In a Microsoft Teams meeting, a producer shares the tasks of an organizer and presenter. For more info on the roles, refer to Roles in a Teams meeting.

Set up for an inclusive live event

  • At the start of a meeting or event, announce the available accessibility features (interpretation, captions, accessible docs).

  • Use the two content layout to simultaneously broadcast your slide decks or screen shares along the sign language interpreter’s camera.

  • Make sure the sign language interpreters supporting webinar presenters share their camera feed to the audience.

  • To enable attendee live captions and subtitles, in the live event window, select The Settings icon in a Microsoft Teams live event window  > Attendee live captions. Attendees will get a notification when you change this setting.

Record meetings

Record the meeting so the attendees can revisit the points discussed on their own time. For instructions, refer to Record a meeting in Teams. For a Microsoft Teams live event, the organizer needs to select the recording option to make a recording available for the attendees.

Reduce distractions

To make sure everyone can enjoy the meeting or live event without distractions and concentrate on the matter at hand, consider the following tips:

  • Establish the rules for participation, for example, how to get the presenter’s attention or how to participate. For example, in a Microsoft Teams meeting, the participants can raise virtual hand or use the chat. In a live event, the attendees can ask questions using the Q&A pane (if enabled).

  • Blur the speaker’s background. However, do not blur the sign language interpreter’s background as this might obscure the sign language. When people use pictures as a virtual background, it can wash away their face, which can make reading lips difficult.

    For more info on using backgrounds in Microsoft Teams, refer to Change your background for a Teams meeting and Custom backgrounds.

  • In a live event, to avoid background noise that might make captioning and sign language interpretation difficult, mute all participants. Inform everyone that only one person should speak at a time and that all others are muted.

Tips for presenters and speakers

As the meeting or live event presenter or speaker, you present audio, video, or a screen to the attendees, or moderate the event Q&A. You share many of the basic capabilities of a producer in a meeting or live event. You won’t have as much control over the video feeds or the live event itself. For more info, refer to Event group roles or Roles in a Teams meeting.

For general info on presenting in a live event, go to Share content in a meeting in Teams or Present in a live event in Teams.

Before your presentation

During your presentation

  • Introduce yourself prior to your presentation.

  • Check with the attendees if you’re speaking too fast or loud enough.

  • At the beginning of your meeting or event, give a short summary of your presentation to let your audience know what to expect.

  • State your major points first before going into details. Stick to one topic at a time. If you jump around between topics, you will confuse your audience.

  • Talk slowly and clearly and use plain language to make the meeting or event more understandable and accessible to attendees with disabilities as well as people with limited English proficiency. Use everyday words, define technical terms, and omit unnecessary words. Use short sentences, and speak using the active voice.

  • If you’re using a slide deck, read the slide title every time you advance to a new slide. Before you start talking about your slide, describe any images on the slide such as photos, graphs, charts etc.

  • Describe any meaningful content shown on screen such as images. If you’re showing videos, try to use an audio described version of the video.

  • Describe each demo before and after. Alternatively, share the screen reader audio during demos. To silence the screen reader when you’re talking, press the Ctrl key.