I have been using Live Events in Microsoft Teams for over a year. Here are some key challenges I have encountered and some ways to reduce stress when kicking off or running events.
Avoid attendee confusion when starting your event
I learnt very quickly some of the possible confusion as an event starts, and how important it is to clearly communicate with attendees.
Before the event is live (while you are in the pre-live state) attendees see this screen with ‘the live event hasn’t started’. This appears to be clear enough and understood.
Sometimes there are reasons to go ‘live’ but not yet start presenting, such as going visibly live with presenters muted and paused to give a bit more time for attendees to enter.
In my first ever event over a year ago I had a cover slide of my PowerPoint deck. When people entered and I hadn’t started talking yet, they thought there were sound issues and I began getting messages.
So, if you go live and there is no audio straight away – ensure the slide on the screen has a message such as ‘the event will begin shortly’. I also unmute periodically and advise people we are waiting a few moments and will begin shortly.
I have tried a few other tricks, like playing music with that initial slide so there is audio and it is clearly not yet begun, however make sure the music is clear and of a good quality. For one of my earlier Live Events I had Spotify playing on my mobile via speaker but found that my headset was such high quality that the noise cancelling removed this background music and only picked up my voice.
Be aware of the delay
Microsoft Teams Live Events have a delay of 20 – 30 seconds which can at times cause some confusion.
Firstly, I often hear people suggesting that presenters open a browser with the attendee link to see what their event looks like while it is running. It is important here to also remember this may throw some presenters off with the delay. Some think their slides are not transitioning at the right pace and forget it isn’t in sync with the presentation. If people choose to enter as an attendee on a device, they just need to be aware of the delay and not have it throw them off.
Secondly, the delay can impact any Q&A in your event. Remember you will be ahead of the attendees, so when a question pops up you could have moved on from that slide or topic. This can require a skilled moderator to support presenters in handling questions and interjecting where appropriate if questions suit the flow, or to just save them until the end. I personally think it takes a very skilled self-producer to handle their presentation and the Q&A section (seen below) at the same time, and to move between their content and questions throughout their event. It can be much smoother to press forward and complete the presentation, addressing questions at the end and dismissing them from the panel as they are answered.
The presenter invite vs attendee link
When a Live Event is created, you specify the producers and presenters, who all receive an Outlook invite. The event invite in the Microsoft Teams calendar (for the creator of the event) looks like this:
You can see above the event has an attendee link and a join button for those who received the invite.
When you click on ‘get attendee link’ it copies the link to clipboard. This link can be put in an Outlook invite, an event tile in SharePoint, on a website, in text in an email or even messaged to someone, to name a few.
A presenter receives the event invite who, differently to an attendee with a link, clicks on the ‘join’ button in their invite to enter the event. One thing to be mindful of is that they should not forward that invite to others.
What can go wrong?
I had a situation recently where I created the invites for a client with the roles set. The coordinator in that organisation who was sending the detail to all attendees made an error, and instead of sharing the attendee link, the coordinator forwarded the invite in its original form to all attendees. This was only realised when we had a massive amount of people enter backstage as presenters, with a few who dialled in with mobiles and were able to unmute and speak!
This was chaos, but we had to forge ahead, asking them to stay muted and not to interrupt the actual presenters.
You can see below in the calendar invite a presenter receives it states ‘do not forward this invitation’ along with dial-in details. The dial-in capability is for presenters only, not attendees, and it is crucial the invite is not forwarded to attendees.
Additional presenters at the last minute
In a recent event there was stress in the 5 minutes before going live because a few presenters were not in the session.
I was given a list of about 5 stakeholders for a leadership presentation event and on the spot told a few were left off the list I was provided, and so not in the invite.
We were not yet ‘live’, but in the ‘pre-live’ state, and getting ready for the event.
At this point I am able to open the invite in the Microsoft Teams calendar and edit the event to add more presenters, however it isn’t clear what the window is when you can no longer make changes to an event. If it’s 30 mins prior, all should work ok, but once in pre-live and updating so close to the start time there can be challenges.
When these additional presenters received the invite, accepted it, and selected ‘join’ they were coming into the event as attendees.
If you have a situation like this where the presenter is not entering as expected or having issues, a quick workaround is to pull them in.
Provided they are on the invite, if you navigate to the participant area you can select the 3 dots next to their name and select ‘ask to join’ as shown in the below video.
Tenant switching issue
This has been one of my biggest issues when running Live Events. A seemingly minor thing that can create a massive stress close to start time.
If a presenter is a guest in your tenant, they need to switch into your tenant using the full Microsoft Teams client to enter the Live Event in the correct way. If they don’t switch tenants, they will end up entering as an attendee and not be able to present or even speak.
And, it isn’t due to lack of skills. I have run events with fellow Microsoft MVP’s, Microsoft staff and highly skilled technical people. Across any type of presenter, if they are not aware of this technical nuance, even the greatest experts will experience this challenge.
What can happen (as the producer) is that you are sitting solo in an event, wondering where your presenter is. A key giveaway is there is a single attendee in that 10-15 minutes prior to start time (as shown below).
Or, you are receiving messages from the presenter saying they cannot enter and experiencing general confusion.
If they exit the event, switch tenants, and then click on the join link in the Outlook calendar all seems to work ok.
However, it is not always this clear cut. There appear to be a few variables to this that still can impact your event; whether they were a guest previously in your tenant, whether you sent the invite to a federated person and you added them as a guest, or various other situations (that Loryan Strant is testing and establishing in a deeper blog), there can be issues. Keep an eye out for his technical analysis soon and I will update this text with a link when he is done.
For now, if you are working with other users for an event, test it. In my daily role, when we produce events and showcase this technology to clients, we ensure they are well aware of the nuances and understand the need of a quick rehearsal to ensure on the day all runs smoothly.
Make sure that you try out Live Events in Microsoft Teams, test, get to know the roles and features, and you will in no time be producing flawless events.
I hope these tips help shorten your learning curve!