The Teams meeting chat lifecycle is broken
Whatever happened to conversation ‘before, during and after the meeting?” Access to meeting chat in Teams feels broken and isn’t supporting collaboration as it should. Let’s talk about that.
I say this with an exhausted sigh. I want to be able to hold conversations with people before, during and after a meeting. You know, as we can via email on a meeting invite. I can reply-all to the invite and start a conversation. I can negotiate an agenda, share additional files. I can ask what I need to do to prepare for the meeting. With meeting conversations using email this is easy. Just reply to the organiser or all attendees and the conversation is kept in the same thread using the same subject. But I can’t rely on being able to do the same with a Teams meeting chat.
Last year Microsoft introduced a default behaviour to limit access to meeting chat. The intentions were good. With some meetings, we want to close off chat at the end of the meeting and shift the conversation elsewhere. Or we might want to protect the conversation from being shared. I discussed the behaviour in this post and video. In short, you can either have full or temporary access to the meeting chat. Depending on who you are and what meeting options have been set, you may only be in the conversation loop after joining and before leaving the meeting. External attendees invited to a private meeting will generally have only temporary access to meeting chat. Attendees from the organisation hosting the meeting should have full access to meeting chat. But I found this to be a mixed experience.
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Upvote. Comment. Add your stories of frustration. We need this fixed if we want to benefit from Teams meeting chat before, during and after the meeting.
Temporary chat access might be good for some use-cases. But what happened to the dream of communicating before, during and after the meeting? Today, it’s still a dream in Teams. The private meetings I am invited to are a game of chat-access-chance. I want to engage with the meeting organiser and other attendees before the meeting. After the meeting, I want to continue to discuss action items, clarify discussion points, and connect with the active attendees who were contributing. But I may enter the meeting as a temporary attendee. Then I have temporary access to the chat.
As a meeting organiser, I try to set my meeting options so people can chat before, during and after a meeting. I organised a recent meeting series with a friend to collaborate on a conference presentation.
I set the meeting options to allow everyone to skip the lobby.
I allowed meeting chat. It’s not a webinar. It’s a collab meeting.
I started the chat without joining the meeting, posted a comment or two and shared a couple of files.
My friend couldn’t join the chat. He received no notifications. He tried joining the meeting early as Teams advised he couldn’t chat till he joined the meeting. My meeting options allowed him to skip the lobby and join without me. Even when he joined, he was unable to chat because Teams wouldn’t allow him to start chatting with only one person in the meeting.
This is beyond frustrating. A private meeting and the communications surrounding it are a collaboration space in their own right. That’s the intention. Let the words echo in your mind like a song that has become an ear-worm. “Before, during and after the meeting.”
My friend has temporary access to the meeting chat in this meeting series. This means he will be able to access chat once I have joined the meeting. This is a meeting series. Once the meeting finishes, we want to keep chatting and collaborating on content, decisions and ideas. But my friend won’t have access to the chat between the meeting occurrences in the series. He will only be able to engage in chat during meetings. Files that I share in the chat won’t be visible. They are shared from my OneDrive and I have allowed external sharing, so at least he will be able to co-author with me.
You might say “Darrell. Just make a team and work from there.” I could. I might have to. But I’m trying to be environmentally conscious. What? Yeah, that’s when I want to reduce the impact on my working environment and that of other members, by avoiding using a full Microsoft Team if I can. Let’s play the full Team scenario out.
I create a team in my tenant and invite my friend. I have a team in my list of too-many-teams. It’s convenient but messy and certainly a cognitive load I don’t need.
If I’m using a full Team to collaborate, I should schedule meetings in the channel. That way the meeting conversation is kept together, before, during and after the meeting.
My friend has another obligation to switch tenants when he wants to chat. He can access files if he has opened them before. They will be in his recently used list of the Office applications. But only if they are Office files.
My friend will join meetings that have been scheduled in the channel. He will have the option to change tenants first. Teams will suggest he change to my tenant so that he can fully participate in chat. If he joins the meeting from his tenant, he won’t have access to the chat in a channel-based meeting.
So we’re back to losing the value of chat during a meeting.
Do you see my environmentally conscious decision now? It’s not just for me. It’s for my friend. If I can contain all our collaboration in a meeting, the chat, its files, then I have lowered the impact on his working environment.
I have more thoughts on the broken meeting chat lifecycle. I dearly want it to support the lifecycle of a conversation around a meeting. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have more control over chat access. Give me a switch in meeting options like the one that allows me to skip the lobby. Let me switch on chat access for different audiences, at different times. Or let’s face it. At least email conversations for meeting lifecycles work.