While joining the #CloudCoworking experiment this week in @LoryanStrant's tenant, I noticed a new icon in the Microsoft Teams meeting. I had opened up the participants pane to see who was online in the team that I could invite to join me in the call. At the top beside the search box was a link icon. Hovering over the icon, the alt text read "Copy Join Info." It looks like we have a way to invite anonymous meeting participants now. I tested it with @OwenAllen while in the Cloud Co-working space.
This link means that anyone who uses it can join the meeting. They will have a limited experience of the meeting as we will see later in this post. But a link that allows anyone to join, opens up a few possibilities.
- A meeting can be made more publicly accessible. Named invites don't need to be sent.
- Real time Collaboration is only a few clicks away. No sign-up and verification required.
- In our Cloud Co-working space, we can share the link to the meeting and anyone can join for that call.
Not all meetings should allow anonymous meeting attendees. If the meeting is discussing sensitive content, attendees should be authenticated and invited by name. If the meeting is discussing content that could be said in public, then it's probably OK to allow anonymous meeting attendees.
The participants pane is a good place to check who else is online from your team, so you can invite them into the meeting. The Copy join info link appears to provide the same link you would see in an email invite to a scheduled Teams meeting.
I could paste this into an email, send it in an IM through any number of platforms. Clicking on the link opens in your default browser. I use Chrome as my default. But Edge is currently more functional. At the time of writing this post, Edge will use your webcam and mic. Chrome only uses your mic. Both don't support screen sharing yet. If you have Microsoft Teams application installed, it offers to open the meeting using it. I chose to Join on web.
Join on web will perform a check first, asking to use your webcam, mic and speakers. In my case, I'm already using my camera while I pretend to be the host. I chose Continue without it.
I entered the name I wished to be displayed, as a meeting guest. Then I joined.
As an anonymous meeting attendee, I was placed in a lobby, and waited for an authenticated meeting participant to admit me into the meeting. This is best practice because it allows meeting organisers and facilitators to screen attendees before they join. In saying that, the decision is only based on what people type as their Guest name.
Once I was admitted to the meeting, I saw the video of other participants. One of the first things I tried was sending an IM from an authenticated user in the meeting.
Anon meeting attendees can adjust their settings. I changed my mic and webcam. The theme can be changed too.
Anon meeting participants only see the meeting. They don't see the app sidebar with Activity, Teams, Chat and Files etc. So they really are restricted to the meeting. Since they cant see Files, you can't share a file with an anon participant. It appears that at this stage, anonymous meeting participants don't have IM? I'm sure it's coming. An anon attendee will need IM to ask questions or signal to the speaker that they want to come off mute and ask a question.
Anonymous meeting guests are new and the features are still under development. The current functionality is a safe first step, which at least allows meeting guests to see and hear meeting content, and participate. I look forward to seeing how Microsoft include a meeting guest in chat, without making them an authenticated guest team member. Or how they allow meeting guests to send and receive files in the meeting. These are two important collaboration experiences that even meeting guests should have.