The 10 best new Microsoft Teams meeting features

Over the past year or so, Microsoft has added a host of new capabilities to Teams, its chat and videoconferencing hub, focused on improving video meetings with co-workers and other colleagues. Here’s a rundown of the key new features to know and how to use them.

Note that this guide refers to the Microsoft Teams desktop app for Windows and macOS included with Microsoft 365/Office 365 business and education subscriptions. Some of these features are not offered in the web or mobile apps or in consumer versions of Teams, including the free version.

1. Breakout rooms

Breakout rooms are basically mini-meeting rooms that are associated with a larger meeting. Each breakout room has most of the usual meeting features including participant audio and video feeds, a chat pane, and screen-sharing capabilities.

If you have a small team that needs to speak and present in a meeting, they could benefit from prepping and conferring with each other in a separate breakout room while the main meeting is taking place. In another scenario, you could put all meeting participants into breakout rooms to facilitate small-group discussions before bringing everybody back to the main meeting.

microsoft teams 01 breakout rooms Microsoft

Breakout rooms enable small-group discussions apart from a larger Teams meeting. (Click image to enlarge it.)

To set up breakout rooms, you must be a meeting organizer or a presenter with breakout room manager privileges. During a meeting, you can access this feature by clicking the Breakout rooms icon (a smaller square on top of a larger square) at the upper right of the meeting window. This will open a panel where you can create one or more breakout rooms and either manually assign people in the meeting to them or have the assignments made automatically.

Alternatively, you can set up breakout rooms before a meeting by opening the meeting invite in Teams and selecting Breakout rooms > Create rooms.

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