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Microsoft Teams – Members, Guests what’s the difference?

Microsoft Teams – Members, Guests what’s the difference?

The whole point of a Team is to work with others, right? So, you have set up your shiny new team and want to add members – but then it gets confusing. What kind of members should you add? How do you add them and what if you just want to host a meeting with others who are not part of the team? Are they guests? And what is a guest member?

Read on to find out.


Team members are people who work at your organisation. They have the same email address ending as you so they are . You can invite them into any team that you set up in your organisation.

In fact, as you set up the Team you are prompted to invite members in. I always skip this step and only add people once I have set up the Team with all the different things I want them to have access to.

To add a member:

Click on the three dots to the right of the Team name and choose Add member from the list of options.

Microsoft Teams - Add members

Add Team Members

Next you need to add their email address – as you start to type Teams will suggest people at your organisation. You will see in the dialogue box that it tells you that you can also add Guests to your Team. More on that next.

Microsoft Teams - Add team members

Type email address

So – what or rather who is a guest?

A guest member is someone who does not work at your organisation and does not have an email address that ends like you do.

You have the ability to add guest users to your Team so that you can work with external people.

What can a Guest member do?

A guest in your team can do almost anything a fully-fledged member can. They can participate in a Chat, join a Channel Meeting, have a one to one chat with other members of the Team, and access files and folders in the Files section as if they are

Do I need to do anything special to add them?

Yes, you do. The Team administrator will need to enable certain settings in order for guests to join

  1. Turn on Guest Access in the Teams Admin Centre at the Organisation wide level
  2. Configure Azure Active Directory Business to Business Settings to allow access
  3. Configure Office 365 Groups
  4. Configure Sharing in Office 365
  5. Verify the Sharing Settings in SharePoint
  6. Set up Guest User Permissions in the Team
Enable Guest Access

The six steps to enable guest access – slide from my course – How to Use Microsoft Teams

Wow that sounds complicated Shelley

It is, and it isn’t. Think about it for a moment. Let’s think about what a Team actually is and how it is used.

A Team is a Communication Hub. Primarily for those at your organisation. However, on any project you may need to work with external people, suppliers, Virtual Assistants, collaborators from other organisations.

Anyone in a Team has access to all the functionality set up.

  • Team/Channel Chat
  • Team Meetings
  • Applications in the Channels
  • Files and Documents

When you invite guests into your Team you are giving them access to any files stored in the Team. Now this may be exactly what you need to do, and that is fabulous. But if you simply need to have a meeting with external participants – like a Zoom meeting for example, then you don’t need to invite them in or add them to your team.

So, how do I host an online meeting with people outside my organisation Shelley?

There are two methods to create the invitation.

Method one – inside Teams

From the Calendar in Teams click Schedule Meeting, give it a title, set the time and date and type in the email addresses of the invitees, just like you would in an Outlook invite.

When you are done, click Send.

The person Invited gets an email invite and when they accept it will be in their calendar.

To join your meeting, they open the invite and click on the Join Microsoft Teams link in the body.

Side note – I am writing this on my Mac, the steps are identical for both Windows and Mac and I use both.

Method Two

Create a meeting request in Outlook and add the Teams meeting link to it.

On Windows – click the new Teams Meeting icon on the Home Ribbon of the Calendar.

On Mac – click New Invite on the Home Ribbon and then the Teams Meeting Icon

Microsoft Teams - create meeting

Create a Microsoft Teams Meeting in Outlook – the Mac version

On Windows – you will see the Join Teams Meeting link in the body of the email straightaway.

On Mac – the Join Teams Meeting Link will be added after you send the invite.

Join the meeting via the link

On both Windows and Mac, the attendee clicks the Join Teams Meeting Link in the body of the email.

What happens next?

When they click the meeting link, they will be taken to their browser, it is preferable to use Chrome or the latest version of Microsoft Edge. They will be able to join the meeting in the browser (just like Zoom) and may need to enable the Microphone and Speakers via a pop up in the browser.

If they have the Teams app installed, they can choose to open the meeting in app (like Zoom)

Once in the online meeting the attendees can see whatever you as the organiser share.

The difference between attending an online meeting in Teams or on the Web

If you join an online meeting as an attendee via the Teams App (so you are not a guest in the organisation) you will be able to use the full functionality of your Teams App. You are not accessing the host’s Team and you do not have access to any of the hosts files or other resources but you do have access to all of your own resources.

If you join an online meeting as an attendee via the web browser, you will be able to see whatever the host shares. If you are presenting in the meeting, you will be able to share your screen and have the choice of whether to share your desktop of any other application that is open. You must have anything you want to share open and ready.

How many people can be seen on screen?

At the time of writing Teams has just been updated to show up to 9 people on screen and Microsoft are working to increase this to more.

Back to Members and Guests

Now when you are working on setting up your Team you can make an informed decision of whether you need people to be invited in as Guest members so that they have complete access to all your Team resources or whether you want to simply invite them to an online meeting.

Remember Guest Members like full Members have access to anything stored inside the Channels they are in.

Want to know more? Take my online course: How to Use Microsoft Teams which will show you how to set up your Teams and how to use all the functionality.

At the time of writing I am creating another course for Trainers Speakers and Coaches, you can sign up to find out when it will be ready here.

Are you using Microsoft Teams? Has this article helped? Do comment and let me knowShelley Fishel 🙏


Online Delivery – yes please!

Online Delivery – yes please!

As the exodus from in-person delivery to online delivery of services continues there are two companies in huge demand.

One is Zoom, the video and audio conferencing app. The other is tech giant Microsoft, home of Office 365 and the provider of the increasingly popular communications and collaboration tool Teams.

Both companies have seen steep upward curves in demand and sales. You can see my blog which compares Zoom and Teams here.

The numbers for Microsoft are pretty staggering.

In their latest analysis report, they announced a new daily record of hosting 2.7 billion meeting minutes across the planet in ONE single day. This figure trebled their previous record of 900 million.Online Delivery – yes please!

Students and teachers are also turning to Microsoft Teams for distance learning. It’s being used in 175 countries around the world to keep education going.

Obviously we, as humans, love face-to-face contact. We prefer to communicate in person with other people.

Microsoft have been researching the way we are all interacting now to uncover some new trends. It makes for interesting reading.

Because we love face-to-face, it’s no surprise that the use of video in Teams meetings and conferencing is on the rise. Global video calls in Teams rose by more than 1,000 per cent during the whole of March. Users in Norway, Australia and the Netherlands were the most active with video communication.

Microsoft Stream, which powers live events and meeting recordings in Teams, has also seen a huge upsurge in activity. A five-fold increase took place in just one month.

With the increasing use of the platform, Microsoft is making changes to make using Teams an even better experience for people. These include:

  • Custom backgrounds – which means you can replace a cluttered or dowdy space with a fresh, new office backdrop. A neat way to create an even more distinguished and professional look.
  • Raise hands – a function which allows participants on a video call or in a virtual conference meeting to indicate they wish to speak.
  • End Meeting For All – The host of a meeting is now able to end the meeting for all participants with a single button click.
  • Participant Report – Meeting organisers, especially teachers, can see who joined, at what time and when they left the meeting.
  • Real-time Noise Suppression – a feature on its way to reduce distracting background noise, such as loud typing or a dog barking.

Different working hours

Online Delivery – yes please!Microsoft’s research also suggests that people are adjusting their working hours while they work more remotely, typically from home. People are logging on earlier and logging off later.

This, say the researchers, does not mean people are working longer hours. It means they are breaking up their work day into different chunks. This may be to work around family, household tasks or caring for others.

You may have found you have had to make some adjustments to your working day or week, too.

What is clear is this. More and more companies and individuals are turning to Microsoft Teams. They will expect employees and external people they work with to know how to use the application.

For the motivated VA, now really is the moment to get your teeth into Teams and make sure you know it well enough to serve clients with calm and confident efficiency.

If you know you need to get up to speed, take a look at my online course on How to Use Microsoft Teams. It covers all the essentials. That means you can worry less about working out how to do stuff and focus on delivering superb service to your clients.

Don’t get left behind. Microsoft Teams is here and only going to be more popular. I’ll show you step-by-step all the clever stuff it does so you can handle it like a dream.

To Your VA success!

Shelley Fishel

P.S. Microsoft Teams is already part of your Office 365 Business subscription. My online course on how to use it is available to you now with a time-limited 25 per cent discount.