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Explore the latest innovations in Webinars and Town Halls for Microsoft Teams

As Microsoft Ignite is underway, we’re excited to share new capabilities we announced to deliver richer virtual event experiences on Teams. And ICYMI, we’ll recap innovation we’ve delivered over the last months across webinars to create more engaging experiences for your customers, as well as the recent introduction of our new town hall experience to host those large-scale, org-wide events. So, let’s dive in and explore all the latest innovations in our events space.

New Webinar Enhancements at Ignite

Today at Ignite, we announced several new capabilities to improve webinar experiences in Teams Premium and Office and Microsoft 365 offerings.

Maintain the privacy of attendees
To help maintain the privacy of attendees, keep the focus on the content, and foster more open discussions with the audience, you can hide attendee names during a webinar. When hide attendee names is enabled in the meeting options, it hides the attendee’s name, profile photo, and profile card information from other attendees in the event. Only the organizers, co-organizers, and presenters are still able to see the attendee’s name and profile card information, which appears as ‘Attendee’ and their name in parentheticals next to it (e.g., Attendee (Jane Doe). When attendees view the people roster, they see each attendee listed as ‘Attendee’. As attendees engage and use chat, their names will continue to be hidden; whereas when attendees utilize Q&A, the organizer will need to have enabled the anonymous posting option within Q&A to ensure the attendee names remain hidden when submitting questions. Once the webinar ends and the recording and transcription become available for sharing, attendee names remain hidden in the post-event documentation. This new capability is included as a part of advanced webinar functionality in Teams Premium and will be generally available by the end of November.

A live webinar showing attendees names hidden from an attendee’s perspectiveA live webinar showing attendees names hidden from an attendee’s perspective

Extend webinar data to third-party tools with Graph APIs
To enable users to build relevant experiences for hosting webinars, new Teams Webinar Graph APIs allow users to access webinar data such as attendee names, attendance duration, registration, and registrant cancellations. This data can be exported to be used in third-party systems including CRMs, marketing automation tools, LOB and Workflow apps to drive lead generation and follow-up actions, and enable business-to-business workflows. These new webinar Graph APIs are available to access with Office and Microsoft 365 E3/E5 plans and are currently available in beta.

Recent Webinar Enhancements

Over the past months, we’ve delivered capabilities to improve the end-to-end webinar experience, whether it’s additional customization for registration set up, enabling a more seamless experience for external presenters to join, deeper analytics to better understand engagement, and more.

Customize email communications for increased participation
We’ve made it easier to entice attendees to register and join your webinars with customizable email communications. Whether it’s a registration invite, waitlist email, reminder email, or following up with a webinar recording email after the event ends, organizers can edit the content email communications to better showcase their brand and tailor their message for each event. This includes the ability to customize the subject line, email body, and sender name, while including the relevant branding that was set up for the event. You can also customize the timing of when reminder emails are sent, so attendees don’t miss your event. This capability is a part of advanced webinar functionality in Teams Premium and is accessible by the organizer and co-organizer in the webinar setup and management experience.

An editable email template to customize content including sender name, email subject, and email bodyAn editable email template to customize content including sender name, email subject, and email body

Easily join as an external presenter
To ensure external presenters can seamlessly join a webinar and don’t get stuck in the lobby waiting to be let in to the event, each invited external presenter receives a unique join link that allows them to bypass the event lobby and directly join the event, whether it be the virtual green room before things have started or during the event itself. This creates a frictionless join experience, reducing the angst for both external presenters and organizers. As the organizer sets up the webinar and selects ‘Add external presenters’ on the Details tab, each invited external presenter receives an invitation email with their unique join link as the event is saved and invites are automatically sent. These unique join links for each external presenter are also available to access on the ‘Presenters bios’ tab for reference and to share out as needed. This capability is a part of webinar functionality in Office and Microsoft 365 plans¹ and is accessible by the organizer in the webinar setup and management experience.

Assess attendee interaction and overall engagement
To help organizers better understand how to improve their webinars and deliver more engaging content, we’ve expanded the attendee reporting to include engagement analytics at both an aggregate level for the total number of attendees, as well as at the individual level for each attendee. Across all attendees, organizers can view the total number of reactions, total number raise hands, total number of times attendees came off mute, and the total number of times attendees turned cameras on during the webinar. Across each individual attendee, organizers can view an engagement marker that indicates which type of engagement they used (e.g., which specific live reaction was selected, when an attendee turned their camera on) and at what time throughout the webinar. This detailed engagement reporting helps organizers and presenters understand how content performed and drive the right level of follow-ups with attendees. This capability is a part of the advanced webinar functionality in Teams Premium and is accessible by the organizer and co-organizer in the ‘Reports’ tab within the webinar setup and management experience.

A view of the engagement analytics that shows the total number of engagements for all attendees and highlights individual reactions at a specific time during the webinarA view of the engagement analytics that shows the total number of engagements for all attendees and highlights individual reactions at a specific time during the webinar

Flexible and accessible viewing with on-demand recording
Whether attendees may have missed the webinar or want to reference it after the event has ended, the on-demand recording of the webinar makes it easy to distribute to attendees and more readily accessible. We’ve automated the distribution of the on-demand recording, where once a webinar has ended and the organizer publishes the recording, an email is automatically sent out to all attendees with a link to the event landing page which contains the recording and event details for reference. The on-demand recording is available for viewing for up to 30 days and can be extended for an additional time period of 60 days as needed. This capability is a part of webinar functionality in Office and Microsoft 365 plans¹ and is accessible by the organizer and co-organizer in the webinar setup and management experience.

A dedicated landing page for attendees to view the webinar on-demand at their convenienceA dedicated landing page for attendees to view the webinar on-demand at their convenience

Beyond these capabilities we’ve built directly in Teams webinars, we’re also excited to share how our partners are helping us further extend and enhance our webinar experiences for customers.

Extending production elements with LiveArena
Our new partnership with LiveArena Technologies helps take the production of your next webinar and town hall to another level. Using AI Producer by LiveArena, a Teams meeting extension app, allows organizers to create professionally produced webinars, town halls, and interactive events right within the familiar Teams meeting experience. AI Producer analyzes actions during an event and automatically transitions between presenters and shared content to spotlight the relevant speakers and drive a more engaging experience, requiring no additional production staff to switch between various content feeds and presenters. AI Producer provides several preset production formats and layouts to enable various event scenarios that include presentation style (optimized for one speaker at a time), panel discussion, and talk show format. To learn more about leveraging AI Producer with LiveArena, visit the Teams Store, Azure Marketplace, or AppSource.

An attendee view of a webinar using AI Producer to showcase relevant speakers and content in a panel discussion formatAn attendee view of a webinar using AI Producer to showcase relevant speakers and content in a panel discussion format

Consult with Avanade to deliver webinars in Teams
Learn how to integrate Teams webinars in to your marketing automation and CRM platform and other business systems to enrich your data and drive efficiencies in your attendee workflows. Avanade is offering a free 2-hour workshop to help organizations realize the full potential of Microsoft Teams webinars and visualize the next steps to take in unlocking their digital transformation journey. Learn more about this complimentary offer from Avanade through AppSource.

Listen and learn all about Teams webinars from Teams engineers
Whether you’re just getting started with hosting webinars on Teams or want to learn more about best practices for delivering webinars, our Teams engineers are hosting live complimentary webinars for anyone to attend to provide a technical walkthrough of webinar capabilities and a forum for you to ask your burning questions. In these live sessions, you’ll gain an understanding on how to deliver engaging webinars that drive impactful before, during, and after experiences for your audiences. Register here for several upcoming sessions later this month and in December and to learn more about these sessions.

Introducing Town Halls in Microsoft Teams

As we’ve been working to simplify the virtual event experience on Teams, we have been integrating our live event experiences into our Teams meeting experience to create a unified events experience for our customers. As a part of this integration, we recently introduced Town hall, a new large-scale, virtual event experience that will replace Teams Live Event… (with the retirement of Teams Live Events in late 2024). Town halls will provide a one-to-many format with advanced production capabilities and a structured approach for attendee engagement. 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 in Microsoft Teams enable customers 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 maximize participation and maintain focus on the event. Town hall became generally available for commercial customers in early October in both Office and Microsoft 365 plans² and Teams Premium, and we’re excited to see customers starting to host these town hall style events across their organization.

An organizer’s view of the new Town hall experience with manage what attendees see enabled and the Q&A pane openAn organizer’s view of the new Town hall experience with manage what attendees see enabled and the Q&A pane open

To ensure we enable these town hall event experiences not just within an organization, but also outside of an organization, we’re excited to share that the ability to add external presenters with their own unique join link is generally available in town halls.

Allow external presenters to easily join
As mentioned above for the external presenter join feature in webinars, we are delivering this same capability in town halls. To ensure external presenters can seamlessly join a town hall and don’t get stuck in the lobby waiting to be let in to the event, each invited external presenter receives a unique join link that allows them to bypass the event lobby and directly join the event, whether it be the virtual green room before things have started or during the event itself. This creates a frictionless join experience, reducing the angst for both external presenters and organizers. As the organizer sets up the town hall and selects ‘Add external presenters’ on the Details tab, each invited external presenter receives an invitation email with their unique join link as the event is saved and invites are automatically sent. These unique join links for each external presenter are also available to access on the ‘External presenters’ tab for reference and to share out as needed. This capability is a part of town hall functionality in Office and Microsoft 365 plans² and is accessible by the organizer in the town hall setup and management experience.

An automated email sent to an external presenter of a town hall, with the external presenter’s unique join linkAn automated email sent to an external presenter of a town hall, with the external presenter’s unique join link

Experience high-fidelity audio
Attendees experience high-fidelity audio during a town hall when organizers leverage external feeds through RTMP-in, with the audio fidelity automatically supporting up to 48kHz sample rate encoded at 128kps. This ensures that the audio quality of both voice and music sources being fed in from external feeds through RTMP-in are transmitted to preserve fidelity and provide high audio quality of music and speech for attendees in a town hall. This enables professional-grade audio and makes audio clear and richer for a more immersive experience during the event. This capability is a part of town hall functionality in Office and Microsoft 365 plans² and is automatically enabled when the organizer utilizes RTMP-in.

We’re excited to share ongoing innovation to help you deliver richer and more engaging webinars and town hall experiences to your customers, teams, partners, and communities around the world. We look forward to seeing how these virtual event experiences help you drive deeper engagements and create valuable experiences for your teams and business. Get started today with webinars and town halls with your existing Office and Microsoft 365 plans and learn more about the advanced capabilities on the Teams Premium webpage.

1. These new capabilities will be available in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5 plans. Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans will include all the webinar features for up to 300 attendees.

2. Basic capabilities in town hall are available in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 E1/E3/E5/A3/A5 plans, while advanced capabilities in town hall are available in Teams Premium.

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