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How to use Microsoft Teams to communicate more effectively in work

With 2020 being the year of remote work, video conferencing and direct messaging apps like Microsoft Teams have been the technological MVPs of the past several months. Teams is especially easy to use, but there are still a few interesting features hidden beneath the surface. So as Weekly10 is the leading employee engagement and performance management platform on Teams, we thought we'd share our top tips for how to use Microsoft Teams effectively when it comes to communicating with your staff.

1: Take advantage of the broad range of app integrations

You don't necessarily need apps, but when it comes to how to use Microsoft Teams effectively, there are quite a few worth considering. Extensions can add a wide range of features to your Teams experience that can help with everything from time management and tracking wellbeing to collaboration and group polls. You can find them by clicking the "App" button near the bottom left of Teams. As you might expect, there's even a Weekly10 app extension that lets you use all our tools and services through the Teams platform.

2: Organise your toolbar and put your most used apps on top

But just like a teenager with their first SMART phone, you might go a little overboard checking out different apps in the beginning. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about your most useful extensions getting lost in the mess. You'll see your apps (or some of them, at least) on the toolbar at the left side of your screen. It's quick and easy to reorganise them by dragging and dropping the ones you want to move.

3: The @ mentions feature is great for focus and collaboration

First and foremost, Teams is a tool for communication and collaboration. So when it comes to how to use Microsoft Teams effectively, you need to cut through the noise and communicate efficiently. Fortunately, Teams has an @-based mentions feature that works very similarly to the kind used in our employee check-in system. This ensures that if you're posting a group message, you can still make sure a specific person sees it. And if your Teams chats are highly active, you can filter them to only see messages directed specifically at you.

How to communicate effectively in Microsoft Teams

4: You can type shortcuts into the search box

Logging into Teams for the first time, you've probably noticed the big search box running across the top of the screen. What you might not have realised is that it also doubles as a command box that you can use to enter all manner of handy shortcuts. To enter a shortcut, or get the full list of them, just a forward slash into the search/command box. One example out of many is that if you're busy and want to be left to it, /dnd sets your status to "do not disturb." It might seem insignificant, but we couldn't exactly write an article on how to use Microsoft Teams effectively and NOT mention a way to make dozens of different actions quicker and easier, could we?

5: Teams' translation tool can overcome language barriers

One of the main benefits of a tool like Teams for any business operating internationally is how it opens up communication between you and people anywhere in the world. Even a potential language barrier is much less of an issue due to the translation tool available in Microsoft Teams (or the slew of transaltion apps available). To use it, you just mouse over any written message in your chat window. Next to the react buttons (thumbs up, thumbs down, heart, etc) you'll see three dots. Click that icon to see more options, including the translate function.

6: Screen-share in a video call for easy collaboration

Given that Teams' primary selling point is easy and effective video communication, you might expect them to have some features that enhance video chat, and you'd be right. When you're in a video call, the screen-share button is right between the microphone button and the ellipsis. This lets everyone else in the call get a live view of your monitor so you can show them what's what.

How to communicate effectively in Microsoft Teams to drive greater performance and engagement

7: Record or mark important conversations for later

Don't you hate it when you know something important came up in a 1:1 or group conversation, but you can't remember exactly what was said? Well, provided you're having those conversations over Teams, it's an easy problem to nip in the bud. Another useful video call feature is the ability to record video calls. You should probably let people know when you start recording, but it's really handy for taking the guesswork out of recalling complex instructions.

If you and your team are talking through direct messages, there are also a couple of things you can do to make sure important messages don't get lost in the chat-log. By clicking on a message, then on the ellipsis, you can save a message or mark it as unread so you can come back to it in your own time. Being able to keep track of important instructions or managerial feedback is an important part of how to use Microsoft Teams effectively.

8: Immersive reader mode makes Teams even more accessible

When it comes to how to use Microsoft Teams effectively, you need to consider how accessible it is to all of your employees. Accessibility is vital for any widely used tool in the workplace, and Teams is no exception. Immersive reader mode allows users to display just the messages they're reading, as well as change spacing, colours, font, and text size. This makes it ideal for employees with visual impairment, dyslexia, or other conditions that might make reading off a screen difficult.

9: Managers can set up their employees on Teams with any extensions they need

If your organisation uses Teams, then getting set up on it should definitely be part of your employee onboarding process. Managers can even customise the employee experience by pre-installing app extensions onto their Teams profile. So for example, if your company uses Weekly10, you can make sure new employees all get access to our extension when you set them up with a Teams account. This is especially useful for getting remote workers set up, as it gives you the opportunity to make sure they have everything they need.

10: Mark messages as urgent when you really need to

Got a question you need an answer to yesterday? If you can't afford to wait for someone to happen to check their messages in their own time, you actually have the ability to mark the message as urgent. In the row of buttons underneath your text box in Teams, there's an exclamation mark. Clicking it will let you select the urgency of your message. Making it important will put a mark on its notification. Urgent, on the other hand, sends reminders to check the message every two minutes for the next twenty. This can be great for getting a fast response during a hectic day, but just make sure to pick your moment, and don't over-rely on it unless you want your colleagues to hate you. And if you're someone's boss, be doubly aware that "œurgent mode" can easily become known as the micromanagement button.

To learn more about the leading employee engagement platform on Microsoft Teams, visit the Weekly10 blog today!

Weekly10 is the leading employee engagement and performance solution availble on Teams. Want to see why?