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Microsoft Meeting Types: When to Use Meetings, Webinars and Live Events

Microsoft Teams offers three meeting options: Meetings, Webinars, and Live Events.

With Microsoft Teams, your organization has a few different options for meeting types. It’s easy to default to a traditional Teams meeting, but what can Webinars and Teams Live Events offer your company?

In their technical documentation, Microsoft offers this table to explain the basic functionality of each meeting type and to highlight their differences.

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.

We’ll break this down a bit further so you have the information you need to make the best decision for which format will best meet the goals of your meeting.

Teams Meetings

Like the table indicates, Teams Meetings can accommodate up to 20,000 participants but only the first 1,000 will have full interactive meeting capabilities, like access to the chat and reactions. After the first 1,000 participants join, the remaining participants will have a view-only experience. With Teams Meetings, you can invite folks from within and outside of your organization.

For participants, Teams will default to allowing equal levels of participation, meaning they will have full access to audio and video, access to chat and reactions, and the ability to screen share. However, this can be controlled by modifying the meeting options. If you create your meeting invitation using the calendar app in Teams, you will be able to access the meeting options after you’ve created the invite. If you are working on the invite in Outlook, you will be able to access the meeting options while you are creating the invite. Within the meeting options, you’ll be able to control who can bypass the waiting room, share their screen, access audio and video sharing capabilities, and more.

When Should I Host a Teams Meeting?

Teams Meetings are best used for collaborative spaces or meetings in which you do not need clear roles, like presenter and participant. By default, a Teams Meeting gives everyone the same access and participation rights, making it a great solution for collaboration, planning, and sharing. With the ability to host channel meetings, which automatically invites the entire channel and posts about the meeting in the channel, Teams Meetings are an easy and simple way to meet with and work with your colleagues.

While Teams Meetings can accommodate up to 20,000 participants and the host has options to control the level of participation, Teams has other options for larger, less participatory meetings with clearer distinction between the participants and the hosts, presenters, and speakers.

Teams Webinars

A Teams Webinar can host up to 1,000 participants, with full interactive features, but Microsoft claims that view-only experiences will be available soon for a larger number of participants. Teams Webinars create a similar experience to a Teams Meeting for both presenters and participants, with some limitations for participants.

Webinars still allow for audience engagement and interaction through reactions, polls, and a live chat. Hosts of Webinars have similar meeting options as a Teams Meeting, including controlling waiting rooms and participant access to audio/ video devices; however, the two main differences between a Teams Meeting and a Webinar are the ability to include designated presenters/ speakers and the ability to require registration for the event. Webinars automatically limit screen sharing ability to the designated presenters, making the roles a bit clearer to attendees.

Webinars are also the only type of meeting that supports registration. When you create a Teams Webinar, you can create a completely customizable registration form, with the ability to add details, ask questions, and more.

When Should I Host a Teams Webinar?

A Webinar might be the right meeting type for your organization when you want to have more defined roles between your speakers/ presenters and your attendees, but you still want to allow attendees to interact with and engage with the content. Meeting options allow you to limit access to cameras and microphones, while still having fully interactive components like chat and reactions. Webinars are great solutions for workshops and keynotes.

Teams Live Events

Teams Live Events can accommodate a large number of viewers, with up to 20,000 attendees. Audience engagement is extremely limited through a moderated Q&A, which can be disabled completely prior to the event or can be toggled on and off throughout the event. The moderated Q&A allows participants to ask questions with the option to remain anonymous. The hosts can privately answer these questions or publish them to the public Q&A so that everyone can see the question and response. There is no public chat available to participants, but there is a private chat for presenters and producers, and hosts can make announcements within the public Q&A.

Teams Live Events support more advanced production capabilities and therefore is a much different experience for everyone involved. A Teams Live Event still offers the role of presenter but introduces a new role called a producer. Since a Live Event functions differently than a Teams Meeting or Webinar, it is highly encouraged to have a producer who can help run some of the back end things—like moderating the Q&A or queueing up content—while the presenter focuses on delivering the content.

Another more advanced setting for a Teams Live Event is the ability to include live closed captioning. Not only can you enable captions, but you can have Microsoft translate those captions in up to 6 different languages per event, with over 50 different language options.

At the moment, Teams Live Events does not support registration and there is no dial-in option for an audio only experience. According to Microsoft forums, Microsoft is exploring adding both options to Teams Live Events. Although, one great perk of a Teams Live Event is that it allows participants to pause the live streamed event and access a recording of the event which becomes available through the join link at the end of the event.

When Should I Host a Teams Live Event?

A Teams Live Event is a great option for presenting information to a large group of individuals that does not require a lot of audience feedback or participation. Consider hosting a Live Event when you have one or several presenters, need a producer to help support the event, have a set topic, and require limited audience interaction via a managed Q&A session. Teams Live Events are a perfect solution for product releases and other important announcements.

How Can I Learn More About These Different Meeting Types?

PEI offers comprehensive training around Microsoft communication and collaboration, both through management of QuickHelp—an Office365 learning platform with thousands of training videos—and through live training events. We have a comprehensive catalogue where you can select training courses focusing on different Microsoft applications to help your users better understand all the ways they can work, communicate, and collaborate within Microsoft environments. We’ve recently added a new course focusing solely on how to schedule, manage and produce Webinars and Live Events.

If you’d like more information on our training options, feel free to contact us today.

Jess Schneider, PEI

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