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Communication applications, like Microsoft Teams, play a critical role in supporting employee connection and collaboration. Many employees and businesses are comfortable using these solutions for messaging and video calls, but there are a lot of small tricks to learn that make them more engaging and easier to navigate.

While Teams has incredible possibilities for file sharing and app integration, we’ve focused on tips that impact how users navigate messaging and video capabilities. Some of these include how to send a message quickly without having to open a new chat and using different backgrounds for meetings.

Below are our current top ten tips, in no particular order, for using Teams.

1. Pin Your Chats

If you find yourself chatting with many different members of your organization, your recent messages are sometimes not your most important chats. Pinning your chats by clicking the ellipses and selecting "Pin" allows you to keep the most important messages at the top of your chat list. This also allows you to arrange your chats by priority instead of recency.

2. Nickname Different Chat Groups

When a new project kicks off, typically, a new messaging group does as well. This can end up creating an overwhelming amount of chat groups and no clarity on which one is the right one to post in. Nicknaming these groups allows you to see where information should fall according to the title given. Anyone can easily change the name of a group by clicking the pencil next to current members' names at the top of the chat.

3. Set a Custom Status Message

If your team has specific statuses that you follow throughout your business day, changing your status message can help keep your team informed. You can create a custom status when clicking on “Set Status Message” and then typing in what you want it to say. The status box also allows you to @ someone in your status and set when it should be cleared.

4. Send a Message in the Search Bar

The search bar in teams has more than just search functionality. When you type @ and then someone's name, you can quickly send a message without leaving the screen you are currently on. For example, if you are looking at a file inside of Teams and don’t want to lose your spot, you can use the search bar to send a message instead.

5. Mark Messages as Unread

We’ve all had those days where a ton of messages are coming in about different things, and we don't want to miss anything but can’t get to every message when it comes in. Marking a message as unread allows you to get back to a message later, while also reading it when it comes in. This way, you know what to expect from the message but can return to it when you are ready.

6. Adjust your Video Background

Video chatting is a new frontier for many employees, especially those who have not worked remotely in their careers. It can be hard to find the right background and lighting for a video call, especially if you are meeting with a client. Before or while your video is on during a call, you can click on the ellipses and select "Show background effects." Then you can set your background to blur or pick one of the backgrounds Microsoft has created. Bonus points if your company uploads branded backgrounds that can be used when meeting with clients.

7. Mute a Chat or Channel

We have all found ourselves as members of chats or teams where we are there for visibility if someone needs our expertise. When this is the case, the notifications can get overwhelming. Simply tap the ellipses and select “Mute” or “Channel Notifications” to adjust what information you receive. This allows you to focus on the notifications that require attention more quickly.

8. Record Your Meetings

If you are someone who often meets with different members of the organization, taking notes may no longer be enough for you. Within your video meeting on Teams, you can click the ellipses and select "Start recording." This recording will automatically be uploaded to Microsoft Stream when the meeting concludes. Also, please note that Teams will notify everyone in the meeting that it is being recorded, so please either take the time to inform attendees if they are not expecting it or if the recording will be shared.

9. Utilize Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft is all about driving efficiency in your workplace, and that mentality extends to their integration of keyboard shortcuts into Teams. If you are curious about all the options you have, you can open Teams and hold down Ctrl + Period (.) to see the different shortcuts. Some of them include starting a new chat and launching a screen share during a meeting.

10. Start using Emojis, Gifs, and Stickers

Our last tip is a reminder that communicating can be made more fun by adding a little bit of color in your chats. If you have a workplace culture that embraces making communication more fun and personable, you need to explore all of the different emojis, gifs, and stickers you can use when chatting with other members of your organization. You can find all three at the bottom of any text chat in the grayed-out options below "Type a new message."

If your company is looking for new ways to improve employee communication, contact us to get the conversation started. We are always happy to help you explore the options you have that can help you improve employee communication and collaboration.

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