We are in the digital age of virtual and hybrid collaboration, where the lines between physical and virtual meetings are increasingly blurred. Meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams have evolved a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond and now different meeting style experiences based on the type of meeting, update, and interaction needed.
Microsoft provide different variants of their meetings which are designed to suite the different needs and format of the event.
For simplicity Microsoft bring this all together into the “New Meeting” category. Each category has subtle differences, including features. capacity changes and controls.
In this article, I explore the nuances of meetings, webinars, and town halls—three distinct formats that cater to different virtual event needs. From interactive team discussions to large-scale presentations, each format offers unique features and considerations. We dip into the key differences, planning strategies, and how to leverage Microsoft Teams to create engaging and effective virtual experiences for your organisation.
Meetings in Teams are what most of us will be used to for daily stand ups, client calls, remote or hybrid meetings. Teams Meetings can be scheduled in Outlook or Teams and can accommodate up to 1,000 people and include audio, video, application and screen sharing and even coauthoring. With Teams Meetings, articipants can join directly from the calendar invitation (Teams or Outlook) or via the Join meeting link or call in via audio if available.
Channel meetings are also available, which allow everyone in a particular Team or Channel within a Team to see and join the meeting.
Meetings are best suited for situations where participants need to interact with each other via voice or chat and where multiple people may be presenting.
Teams Webinars are structured meetings that support robust registration management, are highly customisable and provide an event-oriented default meeting options (rather than a meeting style).
Webinars are two-way interactive virtual events where presenters deliver information to attendees. They provide extra control for an organizer over the conversation and participants.
Webinars are best suited for situations where presenters and participants have clear roles.
Key features of Teams webinars include:
- Supports up to 2,000 attendees and allows organisers to gather registration data from attendees before the event. This can also include webinar wait lists, registration restrictions and auto follow up.
- Manage the following features attendees use for interaction during webinars:
- Chat: You can set chat to be on for everyone, off for everyone, or on for everyone but anonymous users.
- Q&A: You can manage which organisers can turn on Q&A for meetings and webinars.
- Manage attendees’ view with different layouts
- Brand the webinar experience.
- Use RTMP-in to stream third party content directly into the webinar.
- Create a green room for webinar presenters to handout before going live.
Town Hall meetings in Teams are best suited for situations where a limited number of presenters are presenting to a large group of attendees and direct interaction via chat or voice conversation isn’t needed or required. Attendees do not use their cameras and mics, but instead can access a chat based Q&A to engage with presenters and organisers.
With Town Halls, customers can host various types of internal as well as external events including company-wide town halls, all hands, global team meetings, internal broadcasts, fireside chats, and more.
Town Halls enable organisations to extend their reach to scale their message and connect with audiences around the world; create professionally produced, studio-quality events that deliver a more dynamic experience; and structure and manage audience engagement to maximise participation and maintain focus on the event.
Key features of Teams Townhalls include:
- Supports up to 20,000 attendees
- Provides real time reporting and analysis of the meeting with rich insights.
- Enhanced controls and customisations for a professionally produced, studio-quality events that deliver a more dynamic experience.
- Supports Microsoft eCDN and third-party streaming services.
- Allows creating green rooms for presenters to handout and chat before going live.
- Supports video on demand tools for recap, watch later, rewind etc.
- Full event or corporate branding.
Teams offers different customisations of meeting style based on the purpose / intent of the enagement.
For example, if you want to have a meeting where everyone can interact with each other, then a Teams meeting would be a good option.
If you want to have a structured meeting with clear roles for presenters and participants, and like the option of a registration page, pre meeting comms and engagement reports, then a webinar is be a better option.
If you want to have a meeting where a limited number of presenters are presenting to a large group of attendees and direct interaction via chat or voice conversation isn’t needed, then a town hall would be the best option. This is good for organisational wide updates or broadcast style scenarios.