Service Spotlight: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Best Practices

Whether you work in the same room as your teammates, a cubicle away, or across an ocean, maintaining a robust, respectful chat and call etiquette can help you boost productivity, engagement, and connection with colleagues. It even can help improve your wellbeing and mental health.

No matter what your role, knowing Microsoft Teams chat and online meeting etiquette is a must. Efficiently managing your channels, meetings, and instant messaging at work can help you minimize distractions and overstimulation while increasing efficiency and job satisfaction. Maintaining a respectful chat etiquette also can help foster accessibility, inclusivity, and equity.

Here are some best practices for remotely communicating with your colleagues

Reproduced with modification from: Your guide to chat etiquette in the workplace

Choose the right mode. Should you send an email, an instant message (IM), or a meeting invite? Choose which to use based on workstreams, recipient, and topic. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Use IM or chat for internal teams and ongoing collaborations, but use email for summarizing projects with external working groups or stakeholders.
  • Move rapid back-and-forth conversations from email threads to quick IMs. This reduces email clutter and spares everyone’s full inboxes (including yours).
  • If written IMs prove unclear, offer to jump on a quick voice call. Sometimes this the fastest way to resolve an issue and show that you value other people’s time.

Set notifications so that you respond quickly. It’s good chat etiquette to configure your notifications so that you see all of your messages and mentions and respond in a timely manner. You can also save, bookmark, and pin important chat conversations. If you get overwhelmed by notifications, toggle off all but your highest priorities.


To learn how to set notifications, refer to Manage Notification Settings.

Familiarize yourself with accessibility guidelines. Being inclusive and making sure every voice is heard isn’t just good professional communication etiquette, it also helps to nurture collaboration and improve your team’s productivity.

Second that emotion. Many workplace chat apps feature emojis, memes, stickers, and GIFs. When it comes to injecting some fun into your digital conversations, a little goes a long way. Try to match your emoji, meme, and GIF usage to the rest of your team. You don’t want to be “that” person. 😛 

Use sentiment and reactions appropriately. The thumbs-up button—often thought of as the “like” button—can help you close the loop on conversations faster, with less back-and-forth. Use it to convey “understood,” “okay,” or “will do.” Use the “love,” “laugh,” “wow,” “cry,” or “mad” sentiments more sparingly, depending on your team’s norms.

Respect your coworkers’ availability status. Never ping a colleague who’s set themselves as unavailable—unless they’ve expressly asked you to. And be sure that your own availability status is current so that no one messages you during a presentation or when you’re out of the office.

Group IM conversations have their own unique chat etiquette. These quick tips can help you keep your group chats efficient and help everyone involved stay on task:

  • Tag (also known as @mention) group members when you need a response. Be aware, though, that tagging is commonly associated with a call to action and can seem bossy if not used with discretion. Don’t @mention someone unless you really need to.
  • Tag new members to welcome them to the group. They’ll get a notification, which will help them return to the conversation later. If your platform allows it, share the chat history with new members. It’ll save everyone time in getting new members up to speed.
  • Keep messages short and concise. Ensure that there’s some value in every chat message you send.
  • Acknowledge receipt. Use the thumbs-up or “like” button to let others know that you got or agree with their message.
  • Remember that tone doesn’t always translate. Do keep your IMs brief, but be careful not to be brusque.
  • Avoid repeating yourself. Many chat platforms let you search through conversation histories. Spare your colleagues from having to answer the same question twice by searching for an answer first.
  • Name your group chat if your platform allows it. Doing so will make it easier for group members to distinguish your chat from other threads.

Sending IMs to your colleagues can help you stay agile, especially when it comes to high-priority projects. Doing so also helps to create a virtual water cooler that enhances camaraderie.

A few professional communication etiquette tips to keep in mind for private chats:

  • Use them for brainstorming, private asides, and impromptu follow-ups. But when a private conversation starts getting into larger team decisions, it’s time to carry it over to a group chat or an email thread.
  • Nix the greetings. No need to start a chat with “Hi, how are you?”, “Quick question,” or “Do you have a second?” While it may seem abrupt to simply lead with your question, it’s actually a courtesy that lets your colleague reply on their own terms.
  • Have fun and be social! Private chats are a great place to let your personality and shine and make meaningful connections with your close colleagues. So unleash the GIFs, release the puppy pics, and share that recipe for perfect pizza crust.


Online meetings have become the new normal for businesses, regardless of industry. Here are some tips for video conferencing and online meeting etiquette:

  • Always join on mute. Be aware of camera and microphone settings before you enter a meeting. Don’t be the person that everyone can hear chewing their lunch.
  • Use video when possible. Yes, video uses extra internet resources, but it can give you a more satisfying experience and help you and your colleagues feel more connected in meetings.
  • Limit visual distractions. Sit in front of a neutral wall, curtain, or bookshelf. Use virtual backgrounds judiciously, too, as they can be jarring if they’re too busy or render poorly.
  • Use the chat feature to ask questions and share resources. Typing your questions or suggestions in the chat helps reduce crosstalk and other disruptions. It also saves resources in the chat history for later reference.
  • Pay attention to visibility when sharing your screen. Familiarize yourself with how to maximize your screen and zoom in on images so that everyone can see what you’re sharing.

Before a large meeting

  • Present the meeting from a wired connection or network for better and more reliable audio and video.
  • Create polls to gather information about attendees.
  • In Meeting options, do the following:
  1. To the right of Who can present?, select Specific people. Then, next to Choose presenters:, select Search for participants. Choose the people that you want as presenters in your meeting (from within your organization or federated organizations only).

    Note: After a meeting has started, presenters can promote other attendees to the presenter role.

  2. To the right of Allow mic for attendees?, switch the toggle to No. If someone needs to interact during the meeting, either allow them to unmute when they raise their hand or change their role by hovering over their name and selecting More options Teams more options icon. For more info, see Manage attendee audio and video permissions.

  3. To the right of Allow camera for attendees?, switch the toggle to No. During appropriate times in the meeting, video can be permitted for an individual attendee or all attendees. For more info, see Manage attendee audio and video permissions. 

  4. When you're done with these settings, select Save.

Learn more about getting meeting options and suggestions for Protecting your Teams Meetings

During a large meeting

  • Use Spotlight a video to highlight a single presenter to make them stand out (Note that Spotlight can’t be used in Large Gallery or Together Mode).
  • Meeting organizers and presenters can change participant settings for attendees, such as allowing them to unmute or promoting them as presenters.
  • Remind and encourage attendees to raise their hands before speaking and to use live reactions.
  • Create polls during the meeting to get feedback from attendees.
  • To learn more, refer to Spotlight someone’s video in Teams a Teams meeting

Intended Use of Different Types of Meetings

There are multiple ways to meet in Microsoft Teams: meetings, webinars, and live events.

Meetings, webinars, and live events are all types of meetings, but webinars and live events provide additional control for the organizer over the conversation and participants. Webinars provide two-way interaction while live events provide a managed Q&A experience.

The different types of meetings also have different participant limits and participant capabilities.

The following table summarizes the three types of meetings, the number of recommended participants, and how participants can interact in the meeting. Sections with more information about each type of meeting follow the table. 

Type of meeting Number of participants Interaction Registration supported
Meetings Up to 20,000* - Participants up to 1,000 have fully interactive equal meeting capabilities.
- Participants over 1,000 up to 20,000 have View-only capabilities.
Webinars - Up to 1,000
- Increased limits with View-only capabilities coming soon.
- Participants up to 1,000 have fully interactive capabilities.
- Audience interaction configurable.
- Can specify presenters.
Live events Up to 20,000** - Broadcast to large audiences.
- Moderated Q&A for audience interaction.
- Can specify producers and presenters, including external presenters.
- Supports more advanced production capabilities.

*The usual 10,000 is increased to 20,000 through December 31, 2022 for eligible users.  Those limits do not apply/are not available equally to all Queen’s users. This is detailed on respective service pages.

To learn more, refer to Microsoft’s article – Meetings, webinars, and live events

Meetings in Teams include audio, video, and screen sharing for up to 1,000 people and view-only capabilities for participants over 1,000. Participants don't need to be a member of an organization (or have a Teams account) to join a Teams meeting. They can join directly from the calendar invitation via the Join meeting link or call in via audio if available.

As the administrator, you'll configure meeting settings and control which meeting features are enabled for your organization by specifying meeting policies.

In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, your users can create channel meetings. With channel meetings, everybody in a team can see there is a meeting, join the meeting, and use the meeting chat. Channel meetings are a way to quickly invite everyone in a team to a meeting.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams Meetings at Queen’s.

Webinars are structured meetings where presenters and participants have clear roles. A key difference between webinars and Teams meetings is that webinars support registration and provide attendee engagement data. 

Live events are structured meetings that enable your organization to schedule and produce events that stream to large online audiences—up to 20,000 people. With live events, the audience interaction is a managed Q&A experience.

Learn more about getting started with Microsoft 365 Live Events at Queen’s.

Microsoft enables you to enhance meeting experiences by integrating and using meeting apps. For example, whiteboard integration in Teams meetings is powered by the Whiteboard web app, which lets Teams meeting participants draw, sketch, and write together on a shared digital canvas.

You can add meetings apps to your Teams deployment by using the apps provided with Teams, using certified third-party apps and templates, and creating your own custom apps.

The following table lists articles for more information:

Article Description
Apps, bots, & connectors Introduction to apps and how to deploy apps for your organization.
Apps for Teams meetings Overview of meeting app extensibility, API references, and how to enable and configure apps for meetings.
Manage the Whiteboard in Teams Describes Whiteboard functionality and how to enable and disable for your organization.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams Apps at Queen’s.