Teams Live Events, scheduled for full retirement by September 2024, was originally developed separately from the Teams meeting platform. In contrast, Town Hall is seamlessly integrated into the Teams meeting platform to enhance and streamline the user experience.
Starting from October 5, 2023, Town Hall will be widely accessible to commercial customers, introducing a range of new features right from the launch. These features include event roles, external presenter support, a digital video recorder, and integration with Viva Engage.
Town Hall Features Overview:
Town Hall is set to offer a range of new and expanded features, including advanced options exclusively available to Teams Premium customers. Here's a breakdown of the key features:
1. Increased Attendee Capacity:
Town Hall can accommodate up to 10,000 attendees for Office and Microsoft 365 users, while Teams Premium users enjoy an expanded capacity of up to 20,000 attendees.
2. Simultaneous Event Hosting:
Office and Microsoft 365 customers can concurrently host up to 15 events across their tenant, while Teams Premium users can manage as many as 50 simultaneous events.
3. Event Duration:
Events within Town Hall will match the Teams meeting time limit, offering a maximum duration of up to 30 hours for Office, Microsoft 365, and Teams Premium users.
4. Virtual Green Room:
Organisers and presenters can gather in a virtual green room for event preparation, discussions about content, briefings, and rehearsals. This feature mirrors the existing green room experience in Teams Live Events and is available across all Teams meetings, webinars, and town halls for Office, Microsoft 365, and Teams Premium users.
5. Content Control:
Both organisers and presenters can manage attendee views, ensuring that only shared content and on-screen participants are visible. This allows for off-screen discussions and practice sessions. Up to seven presenters can share content on the screen simultaneously, a highly requested feature by Microsoft users. The participant list remains hidden from attendees.
6. Enhanced Q&A:
Town Hall offers a more structured Q&A experience with conversation moderation, seamless question submission, and interaction with speakers. Questions can be managed and moderated in real-time, with answers organised in threads. Conversations can be pinned, and anonymous posting can be enabled for attendees. This feature supports up to 10,000 attendees for Office and Microsoft 365 users and up to 20,000 attendees for Teams Premium customers.
7. On-Demand Recordings:
Organisers can access on-demand recordings easily by navigating to the recordings tab within Town Hall setup and management. This functionality is similar to on-demand recording in Teams Live Events but introduces some new elements, including automated email notifications to attendees.
8. Email Communication:
Enhanced email communication and customisation options are available to organisers. They can create and send email templates for event invitations and recording notifications, streamlining the process. Customised email communications can be tailored to persuade and inform attendees, accessible through the emails tab in Town Hall setup and management. Preconfigured email templates are available for Office and Microsoft 365 subscribers, while email customisation is offered for Teams Premium users.
9. Attendee Reporting:
Organisers can review attendee reporting in the reports tab of Town Hall setup and management. This feature provides insights into participant activity, including attendance statistics, join and leave times, and individual participant engagement. The reporting functionality is consistent with that of Teams Live Events, with minor differences in report location.
10. Live Translated Captions:
Office and Microsoft 365 users can select from six language presets for live translated captions during events, while Teams Premium organisers have access to ten preset languages. Attendees using Office and Microsoft 365 will soon have the option to choose up to six languages, and Teams Premium users will have ten languages to choose from, enhancing accessibility.
Notable Differences at Launch:
• Event Roles:
Town Hall introduces event roles, replacing the 'producer' role with a 'co-organiser' role. The roles of organiser, co-organiser, and presenter collectively offer the same functionality as the Teams Live Events' producer role.
• External Attendee Invitations:
Starting in late October, Town Halls will allow external attendees to join events directly using a unique link, bypassing the lobby.
• On-Demand Recording and DVR:
On-demand recording and a digital video recorder (DVR) will be available shortly after launch, allowing attendees to pause and rewind
• Integration with Viva Engage:
In the near future, Town Halls will integrate with Viva Engage, enabling attendees to view events in Viva Engage, regardless of whether they were produced in Teams or an external application or device.
Preparing for Retirement:
• Teams Live Events Retirement:
Teams Live Events will be retired for commercial customers on September 30, 2024. Users have a 12-month window to prepare for this change. After the retirement date, Teams Live Events will no longer be supported, and access to it will be revoked.
• Recording Availability:
Existing recordings will remain accessible until the end of 2024. Users are advised to download and store any recordings they wish to keep before this deadline.
These enhancements and changes make Town Hall a comprehensive and feature-rich platform for hosting large-scale events and meetings within Office, Microsoft 365, and Teams Premium environments.
- by Lizzie Clark
- on October 9, 2023