Smart technology is only as smart as how you use it – and that includes Microsoft Teams.

It is no wonder so many people and organisations use Microsoft Teams. It is a very powerful collaboration and communications tool. However, to get the most from its features and functionality, it is important to set it up the right way for what you want it to do.

A delicious cake emerges from a good, clear recipe. A sports team needs direction from a coach. And ChatGPT requires human input before it can weave its word magic. It’s the same thing with Microsoft Teams.

Why the Setup of Microsoft Teams Matters

The modern-day Assistant is more likely than not to find themselves working with Microsoft Teams – particularly if their employment or clients are in the corporate world.

When you understand how to use this collaboration hub well – and get the best from it – you and your clients or colleagues will experience the difference. Unlocking collaboration in Microsoft Teams is the key to efficiency and productivity.

Microsoft Teams is all about improving the ‘working together’ experience, especially in a hybrid working world. It helps you to be more efficient, save time, communicate better, be more productive, and to feel calmer about tasks and projects.

Many Assistants today will be using Microsoft Teams for Project Management and Task Tracking.

Everything you need to do your job is in one place – Microsoft Teams. No need to switch to other applications or business tools. All the documents you need are in one place – Microsoft Teams. No wasted time or frustration trying to find that all important file for a meeting, video conference or chat.

It makes sense for every Assistant to familiarise themselves with Microsoft Teams. If you feel a little out of the loop, get some training to ensure you are up to speed. My own Essential Teams for the Savvy Assistant program breaks things down into bite-sized learning.

What Questions to Ask for the Best Microsoft Teams Setup

Before you set up Microsoft Teams, begin a new role or start a new project, ask yourself these questions.

1. What type of work or project is it?

2. Who is going to be in the team – and do they all have Microsoft 365 and use Microsoft Teams?

3. Are team members working in one office, all working remotely or working in a hybrid model?

The answers to these questions will help to determine how you set up your Microsoft Teams to enable clear communications and effective collaboration with others.

If you are working more one-to-one with a client or executive, the setup is simpler. If you are working with a team (or within, a team) on a project or regular tasks, it makes sense to get Microsoft Teams organised to help everyone make their best contribution.

Setting Up Microsoft Teams for Effective Collaboration

Microsoft Teams has so many useful features, functions and applications.

Teams works seamlessly with the other applications in the Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) family, which includes Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Teams itself supports your calendar, diary, to do lists, projects, chats, messaging, video calls and much, much more.

Understanding the different features and functions, and how they interplay, will help the modern Assistant in Maximising Productivity with Microsoft Teams.

Getting the Essentials of Microsoft Teams in Place

For effective communications and collaboration, the savvy Assistant will set up the essentials to help them – and the people they work with – get things done with minimum fuss and bother.


The calendar that you see in Microsoft Teams is in fact your Exchange Calendar – the same one you see in Outlook. Each person will see their own calendar. See appointments by Day, Work Week of Week and there is also an Agenda view.  There is no Month View in Teams, for that you will need to head over to Outlook.

As you have your calendar right here inside Teams, there is less and less need to leave Microsoft Teams and go to into Outlook, as you will be using Chat or Channel posts for communication with others, the need for email communications becomes less and less. Now that you know you have your calendar here too, well you almost don’t need Outlook!

Tasks and To Do List – now called Planner

Using the Planner app in Microsoft Teams allows you to see all your individual tasks – from To Do and Outlook – and tasks from Planner. With Planner, every member of the team can see what tasks have been assigned to them and other members, due dates and progress updates as tasks are crossed off the lists. As you can also see your own tasks and to do lists, it is a great place to see everything you have going on in one place.

Teams and Channels

As an Assistant – because of your work, clients or projects – you may find yourself a member of different teams within Microsoft Teams.

When you have established a team, you can create Channels for that team in Microsoft Teams.

By having a specific Channel for each piece of work, campaign or project, all the relevant chat history, meeting history, posts and files (such as documents, slide decks and Excel workbooks) are kept within the same Channel.

Following Best Practices for Communicating in Teams Channels like this makes it easy for you and all other team members to find stuff without faffing around the system. It also simplifies annotations, adding amendments or having chats about the work.

Chat, Messaging and Teams Meetings

Microsoft Teams is an intuitive communications tool and becoming the ‘go to’ for many organisations who use video conferencing and hold hybrid working meetings.

In Teams, you can message people, open a chat with them, turn text into an audio meeting or switch to a video conferencing call. It helps to reduce that overcrowded inbox.

Microsoft has redesigned Teams meetings to improve the user experience. It highlights active speakers, brings shared content front and centre, and optimises the screen layout. You can customise some aspects of the view yourself.

Good communications allow people to be clear about their role, what’s happening and what tasks they need to complete for a project or future meeting. It empowers people to get on and do what they do best.

Integration of Other Apps into Microsoft Teams

The versatility and flexibility of Microsoft Teams is illustrated by how it is able to work with other applications and tools.

The value of Integrating Other Apps Like SharePoint, OneNote and Planner into Teams is obvious. It brings everything together for the whole team into one place, for ease of location, discussion, commentary, action, monitoring and review.

And Microsoft Teams also offers integrations with third party applications, to improve workflow, project management, creativity, collaboration and more. Teams works with apps like Trello, Adobe Creative Cloud, Lucidchart, Mural and MindMeister.

As organisations tend to have their own preferences for communications, collaboration and Project Management tools, it’s good to know Microsoft Teams can accommodate them all. It just makes life easier for everybody.

Communications and Collaborative Power for the Savvy Assistant

Microsoft Teams is fast becoming an essential tool for the modern Assistant. Many organisations use it, many clients will use it.

The global communications hub is a dominant player in the hybrid working market. It is a very powerful tool, however, it does need to be set up sensibly and with thought. How Teams, Channels and communications are arranged, organised and managed is an important part of making it the heartbeat of any project.

The Assistant who gets to grips with, and leads on, Microsoft Teams will have an advantage over those who have yet to add it to their skills portfolio.

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro
Posted in Microsoft Teams, Teams

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I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney