Rolling out in Outlook: “Follow a meeting” and keep up to date.

Update: Follow is a new meeting response (RSVP) option that is now rolling out in Teams and Outlook (new and on the web) that goes beyond the traditional Accept, Tentative and Decline choices. This is designed to help people who typically have a high number of meeting requests and those that typically have conflicting meetings each day with lots of “un-decided” or “maybe” meetings.

New: “Follow” a meeting (Outlook)

I personally think this is a really powerful feature and it’s one of the features I have been most excited about since I first saw the Copilot teaser videos last March. When we respond as “maybe”, organisers are left confused as to who is joining their meetings or not making it hard to plan. For everyone else also trying to get your time, it’s hard to see what you meeting you are attending when you have lots of non-RSVP’d or “maybe” meetings.

With this feature, invitees will be able to inform meeting organisers that they are unable to attend the meeting but notifies them that they want to “stay informed” by following. This is major update to the yes (accept), maybe (tentative), and no (decline) responses we have traditional responses like Accept, Tentative, and Decline.

Note: Follow a Meeting will initially be available only for Outlook on the Web, the "new" Outlook and within Teams. It will roll out to other platforms including mobile "later".

How “following a meeting” works

One this feature is available; you’ll see a new meeting response option in meeting invites (and for existing meeting series). There are three stages to this.

  • You choose to follow a meeting you can’t / won’t attend. You see a new meeting RSVP option called Follow and choose this rather than “maybe / tentative”.
  • Informing Organisers – when you receive a meeting invite you are not able to attend but need to keep up to speed on, you will be able to respond with the new “Follow” option. They are also prompted to “record the meeting” in Teams when there are people following a meeting.
Image (c) Microsoft
  • Free up your Time: When you “Follow” a meeting, Outlook updates the entry in your calendar, marking it as free – allowing you (and others) to see the correct entry in your diary without seeing handfuls of meeting clashes or tentative responses. This means you can better prioritise your time, while still retaining access to the meeting(s) you follow.
  • Stay Informed: When you choose to “Follow” a meeting, the meeting organiser receives a notification asking them to record the Teams meeting. When the meeting is over, you (and anyone else following the meeting) automatically receive the “post-meeting recap”.
NOTE: Initially, "Follow" responses are only available in new Outlook for Windows and Outlook on the web. If the meeting organiser is using either of these versions of Outlook, they will see your Follow response. Anyone using the classic Outlook client in Windows, Outlook for Mac, or Outlook on Mobile, will see the "Follow" response as Tentative.

If you have a Copilot license, you will also be able to use Copilot to recap the meeting you missed, asked questions and more.

The process above is illustrated in diagram below (courtesy of Microsoft).

Follow a Meeting – Illustrated!

Image (c) Microsoft

When will the Follow a Meeting feature be released?

Microsoft has started to roll this out today (May 7th 2024) and expect to complete by late May/June 2024 with General Availability to everyone by late June / July.

Be warned though… as this rolls out, the meeting use of this feature is not consistent or present in all your tools. For example, its currently (8th May 2024), only available on Outlook on the Web and the new Outlook Desktop Client. Not on mobile client, “old Outlook” or Teams.

You can read more by referring to the official Microsoft 365 Roadmap here.

Microsoft have support page about the new feature here.

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