In part two of this two-part series, we take a look at the Chat @mention feature, announcements, and important notifications.
Microsoft Teams provides powerful tools for group communication, but understanding those tools’ features, behavior and some basic etiquette can help you use them most effectively.
In Part One of this two-part blog post series, I explored how to determine your audience, identify your communication’s level of urgency, and then choose your communication option—email, @team, @channel or private message to a single person or small group.
In Part Two, I’ll explore additional features of using @team and @channel that can help you capture your intended audience’s attention without causing unneeded alarm or notifying more people than necessary.
Using @mention to call out individuals within Teams or Channels
Within @team and @channel, you can send a message to individual Team members using @mention, where “mention” is the person’s name. Once you start a message and start typing the first name immediately after typing “@,” a drop-down will appear to help you select your intended recipient:
The notification the recipient gets once you send your message will look just like the Team and Channel notifications, except only the specified user receives a notification. The mentioned user’s conversation will have this icon on the right border:
Users can find these notifications by clicking the activity bell on the sidebar of Teams, which displays the name of the Team and the name of the Channel:
Clicking on a notification takes the user directly to the place in the conversation you “@mentioned” them. To continue the fireworks analogy in Part 1, this type of notification is more like a sparkler. People won’t notice it unless they are right beside you.
Please note: This is the same type of notification you receive when you use the direct chat or a group chat.
- Helpful tips for @team and @channel
@team and @channel are great ways to communicate with employees who need to hear what you have to say, but you should keep a few additional things in mind:
- Team members who reply to a conversation will receive notifications of new responses. This feature allows the conversation to continue to flow without notifying anyone else.
- Proper etiquette for conversations within a channel is to click on the “Reply” button rather than starting a new discussion. This step ensures that everyone’s comments are threaded, kept together within the same stream, and the flow of the conversation is easy to follow.
- If you click on the “Start a new conversation” by mistake, please delete it and repost the comment using the Reply button. You will recognize this has happened right away when your comment shows up as a new conversation separate from the one to which you wanted to contribute.
- Conversations within Teams are permanent. The communication remains for the entirety of the Team’s lifecycle, so you can easily search within it if you ever need to go back and find a specific topic or comment.
- Use the search to see if others have already posted the same question or comment in a specific Team or channel. That way, you aren’t clogging up the feed with redundancy.
Taking it to the next level with announcements and “Mark as important”
Finally, sometimes your message may be so urgent you need to get people’s attention quickly. Creating an announcement or using the “Mark as important” feature are great ways to do this—but only when it’s essential.
Creating an announcement
To create an Announcement, click on the “Format” icon, below the “Start a new conversation” field at the bottom of the channel:
This step expands the field and opens a toolbar with various options to customize the look and feel of your communication. In the top left corner of this expanded window, a dropdown menu will appear. By default, Teams selects the “New conversation” option. If you wish to make an announcement, click on the dropdown arrow and select “Announcement:”
You can now add a picture, a headline or a subheading at the top of the communication to draw attention to it.
Using “Mark as important”
To use “Mark as important,” click on the ellipsis to the far right of the toolbar with the Format field expanded. This button opens more options. Choose “Mark as important:”
To be clear, this option is available within any form of chat communication inside Teams. You can also use it inside of a private chat.
Creating an announcement or using “Mark as important” is like using a huge firework, which may startle people as well as get their attention. Sometimes that’s appropriate, but often it’s not. Use these features sparingly and only for communications that are truly important, urgent, or beneficial to a large portion of your audience. That way, you will prevent unneeded alarm, and make sure people do pay attention the few times you use these tools.
If your peers tend to respond quicker to email, and the urgency of the communication is high, send an email rather than using Chat within Teams. If the opposite is true, and your peers respond to Teams Chat faster than email, then use the built-in features of Microsoft Teams to your advantage.
Only you can determine your audience and how best to communicate with them. When sending your communication, try not to set off a large firework when a sparkler will do.
Hopefully, this post provides you with a better understanding of notifications and Chat etiquette to help your Teams communications become more effective. Remember, the more respectful you are with other people’s time and attention on Teams, the louder your voice will be whenever you communicate.