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ing%20to%20the%20side%20as%20much%2C%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EThe%20first%20release%20of%20Together%20mode%20doesn%E2%80%99t%20have%20a%20reserved%20seating%20feature%2C%20so%20if%20you%20leave%20the%20meeting%2C%20you%20might%20come%20back%20in%20a%20different%20seat%2C%20which%20will%20disorient%20other%20people%20who%20thought%20they%20knew%20where%20to%20find%20you.%20This%20might%20not%20sound%20important%2C%20but%20the%20process%20of%20spatial%2Fsocial%20perception%20is%20not%20entirely%20conscious%2C%20so%20the%20disruption%20can%20be%20jarring.%20Please%20try%20to%20stay%20in%20the%20call%20the%20whole%20time%20instead%20of%20dipping%20in%20and%20out.%20The%20design%20of%20Together%20mode%20will%20evolve%20-%20as%20will%20these%20tips%20-%20as%20new%20use%20scenarios%20are%20supported.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EBecause%20people%20intuitively%20adjust%20themselves%20to%20look%20like%20they%20fit%20well%20in%20the%20virtual%20space%2C%20you%20might%20find%20that%20you%20can%20use%20Together%20mode%20to%20trick%20yourself%20into%20having%20better%20posture.%20Just%20tilt%20the%20camera%20-%20or%20the%20camera%2Bscreen%2C%20if%20they%20are%20the%20same%20device%20%E2%80%93%20up%20a%20little.%20Then%20you%20might%20find%20that%20you%20raise%20your%20frame%20to%20look%20properly%20seated%20in%20Together%20mode.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EWe%20are%20learning%20a%20lot%20from%20customers%20about%20how%20to%20make%20meetings%20more%20engaging%20and%20effective%3B%20we%20have%20many%20more%20ideas.%20We%20would%20love%20for%20you%20to%20try%20out%20the%20first%20release%20of%20Together%20Mode%20and%20let%20us%20know%20what%20you%20think%20to%20help%20us%20shape%20what%20comes%20next.%20We%20are%20in%20this%20together.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EI%20know%20I%20speak%20for%20the%20many%20people%20at%20Microsoft%20who%20have%20contributed%20to%20Together%20mode%20when%20I%20say%20we%20hope%20you%20find%20increased%20well-being%20and%20productivity%20as%20you%20use%20the%20new%20Teams%2C%20and%20maybe%20even%20a%20little%20fun%20during%20difficult%20times.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E-Jaron%20Lanier%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-TEASER%20id%3D%22lingo-teaser-1509496%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3E%3CSPAN%20class%3D%22lia-inline-image-display-wrapper%20lia-image-align-inline%22%20image-alt%3D%22MicrosoftTeams-image%20(8).png%22%20style%3D%22width%3A%20557px%3B%22%3E-ERR%3AREF-NOT-FOUND-%3C%2FSPAN%3ETogether%20mode%20is%20a%20new%20option%20in%20Microsoft%20Teams%2C%20Microsoft%E2%80%99s%20premier%20app%20for%20teamwork%20and%20team%20connection.%20You%E2%80%99ve%20probably%20seen%20it%20by%20now%3B%20everyone%20is%20united%20in%20a%20virtual%20space%20as%20if%20in%20a%20theater%20instead%20of%20being%20separated%20in%20boxes.%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-TEASER%3E%3CLINGO-LABS%20id%3D%22lingo-labs-1509496%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CLINGO-LABEL%3EMicrosoft%20Teams%3C%2FLINGO-LABEL%3E%3C%2FLINGO-LABS%3E
Microsoft

Together mode is a new option in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s premier app for teamwork and team connection. You’ve probably seen it by now; everyone is united in a virtual space as if in a theater instead of being separated in boxes.

 

On one level, Together mode is a simple approach to making meetings feel better during the pandemic, however there’s also a deeper level that touches on our latest scientific understandings of cognition, social perception, and communication.

 

Together mode has a unique look, but it also has a unique feel. People typically become more relaxed, more attentive to one another, more playful, and yet more focused on shared goals. The design offers unique benefits: less fatigue from frequent video meetings, better sense of connection with others, and more effective meetings.

 

Here are my thoughts on how to get the most of Together mode.

MicrosoftTeams-image (8).png

 

When to use it:

The initial design has been optimized to help people during the pandemic. For now, Together mode is ideal when each person is in front of a webcam in a different location. We are exploring how the design can evolve to support conference rooms and other situations. 

  • Together mode is especially well-suited to calls in which multiple people will speak; we find that it’s easier and more comfortable for people to find moments to enter a conversation.
  • Together mode helps when you must go to a lot of video meetings. Most users report less meeting fatigue.
  • Together mode is helpful when a group might have trouble staying attentive, for instance in education settings.
  • Together mode supports presenters who need to “read the room” or get energy from attendees.

 

When to not use it:

If you need to show physical content in your environment, such as a physical whiteboard, then Together mode is not the best choice right now, because it only brings you, not your environment, into the shared space.

 

The first version of Together mode isn’t optimized to share the screen with PowerPoint presentations. If a PowerPoint presentation is the main event and will take up the entire time of a meeting, Together mode might not be helpful.

 

Works best when users are not walking around or otherwise moving the camera or screen during the session. It looks weird, like you’re jumping around in your seat.

 

Together mode is more engaging than a typical video chat, and therefore more distracting from potentially unsafe tasks like driving. You might think, why even bother urging people not to video chat while driving? I wish I could say that I never see people trying to do it! Don’t, please.

 

The initial release of Together mode supports up to 49 people at a time optimally. Together mode might still be the best choice for a meeting with more than 49 participants, but that will depend on many details about how the meeting is conducted. Best practices for large meetings in Together mode are still emerging.

 

An itsy-bitsy introduction to the science behind Together mode:

People in Together mode know where others are in a shared virtual space. That means your brain can keep track of what other people are signaling or emoting in a natural way, relying on social/spatial perception; people can intuitively signal each other nonverbally. In a grid, you don’t know where other people are on the screen, relative to you, from their point of view, so natural glances and other subtle cues are impossible.

 

Together mode creates a shared space in which people are not separated by barriers. Being in overlapping space can lead to silly behavior, as when people “high five”, but there is also a significant benefit. People pay attention to each other more and can gain a better sense of a shared stake in the situation and a shared journey. Constructive behavior signals a level of commitment that isn’t signaled when goofy behavior isn’t even possible.

 

Together mode creates a usable illusion that the eye contact problem has been mitigated. (Eye contact is a classic problem in video conferencing; people appear to be looking in the wrong direction.) The illusion is based on the unique geometry; everyone is looking at the whole group through a big virtual mirror. The geometry feels natural, yet it turns out that the human brain isn’t great at tracking where someone else is looking within it. Once direct eye contact errors become hard to detect, people intuitively position themselves to look as if they are reacting to one another appropriately.

 

Best Practices for using Together mode:

It might seem strange to see yourself in the group at first, but that is what allows for the improved understanding of interpersonal signals. Don’t turn off your camera! For example, being a teacher seated with your students might look odd at first, but you’ll probably find that you understand the students better and they pay more attention to you when everyone can see the attention signals passing between all present.

 

While the initial release works best when everyone has the camera turned on, we are working to support voice only participants at an equal level as well as all types of ability.

 

But what if you’re shy, and prefer to leave the camera off? I’m often shy too. I ask you to keep an open mind and experiment at whatever pace is comfortable. In our early research, we are seeing people leave the camera on more often in Together mode than in traditional grid designs, and they report that the experience was pleasant. One thing to keep in mind is that when people become more able to interact expressively, then appearance matters proportionately less. If people are paying more attention to what you say and indicate non-verbally, then they’re paying less attention to how you look.

 

When a group tries Together mode for the first time, or even when someone sees a picture of it for the first time, the first reactions are often light-hearted. Would playfulness get in the way of people understanding that there are important benefits to the design? After all, Teams is for productivity. It isn’t Xbox.

 

After observing and analyzing many sessions, I’ve come to a new opinion. Playfulness is not a waste of time, even for adults. It is not a bug in human nature, but rather a fine-tuned process crafted over deep evolutionary time that transcends species. It is how we learn to interact with new people, how we build trust and comfort, and how we investigate our environment (consider Together mode as a new part of our environment.) I have stopped trying to get newbie groups to get right to business. Instead I wait for them to get initial, playful reactions out of their systems, and then meetings go wonderfully. It’s not that simple, actually; I sometimes still chastise them during the playful phase because it’s fun to watch people rebel against my exhortations.

 

What about the physical setup: the monitors, cameras, and so on?

Together mode works fine if you’re sloppy about where the camera, screens, and windows are placed, but here are some tips on how to get the most out of it.

 

The feature shows you how you present to others, and how you interact with them. People might see your head turn subtly to respond to them, for instance. If you put Together mode in a little window off to the side on a big monitor, then people will see you looking to that side a lot, which can look out of place; that means that they will not get as much in the way of appropriate head turning cues from you. Therefore, Together mode works best if the window containing it is placed straight ahead, in front of you, and takes up all or most of your screen.

 

Together mode works great on big monitors. I love using it on a Surface Studio. Some people have built up impressive multi-monitor setups for working from home. If you’re one of those people, please place the Together mode window on the same screen where the camera is centered and try to put boring content on your other screens during your meeting. If you look over to the side at a different monitor a lot, it can look a little off. If you want to track mail or text chat during a session, try placing the Together mode window at the top of the screen, centered under the camera, with other windows below it. Then people will see you looking down instead of to the side, which works better.

 

Together mode works best on a screen that is at least as big as a tablet; it is not optimized for phones right now, although they can work if you prop them up to face you at a head-on angle and aren’t moved around during the meeting. If you use a phone, please try to get the phone and you positioned so that other people can see you looking straight ahead, into the camera, through the duration of the meeting. Once again: much better if the phone is stationary.

 

Best if the camera is centered, which is true for almost all built-in cameras on laptops and PCs. Together mode looks bigger on tablets when the tablet is positioned horizontally, but then the camera is often off to the side, depending on the tablet’s design, so you might want to position your tablet vertically. Then the view will be smaller, but you won’t be seen looking to the side as much,

The first release of Together mode doesn’t have a reserved seating feature, so if you leave the meeting, you might come back in a different seat, which will disorient other people who thought they knew where to find you. This might not sound important, but the process of spatial/social perception is not entirely conscious, so the disruption can be jarring. Please try to stay in the call the whole time instead of dipping in and out. The design of Together mode will evolve - as will these tips - as new use scenarios are supported.

 

Because people intuitively adjust themselves to look like they fit well in the virtual space, you might find that you can use Together mode to trick yourself into having better posture. Just tilt the camera - or the camera+screen, if they are the same device – up a little. Then you might find that you raise your frame to look properly seated in Together mode.

 

We are learning a lot from customers about how to make meetings more engaging and effective; we have many more ideas. We would love for you to try out the first release of Together Mode and let us know what you think to help us shape what comes next. We are in this together.

 

I know I speak for the many people at Microsoft who have contributed to Together mode when I say we hope you find increased well-being and productivity as you use the new Teams, and maybe even a little fun during difficult times.

 

-Jaron Lanier

 

 

24 Comments

" You’ve probably seen it by now" - Whaaaat? This was only announced today!  It's nice to see some guidance - but when is it actually shipping? 7x7 mode still isn't out yet (and not on by default for those that do have it).

Same here! First time I hear about this?

Occasional Visitor

??

I think they mean you have probably seen the announcement by now :)

The main blog post about this isn't in the MTC, it's here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/07/08/reimagining-virtual-collaboration-futu...

 

(so, no... I hadn't seen that main blog post before seeing this).

Senior Member

Here's a conservative interpretation of the current launch dates from the Microsoft 365 roadmap:

 

FeatureLaunch Date
Together ModeSeptember 2020
Dynamic viewSeptember 2020
Video filtersDecember 2020
Reflect messaging extensionAugust 2020
Live reactionsDecember 2020
Chat bubblesDecember 2020
Speaker attribution for live captionsAugust 2020
Speaker attribution for live transcriptsDecember 2020
Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflowDecember 2020
Microsoft Whiteboard updatesSeptember 2020
Tasks appAugust 2020
Suggested repliesAugust 2020
Occasional Visitor

How do you activate the together mode in MsTeam?

New Contributor

Really great announcement !! Also very helpful tips :) Really looking forward to it - hopefully the rollout goes quickly

New Contributor

I hope they will manage to launch it before thoses dates.. :D

 

Occasional Contributor

Another nice feature, but I have to question priorities when there are still simple, basic UI defects in Teams which have not been addressed:

 

  • No search on the Wiki.
  • Search control in the title bar, breaking fundamental platform UI conventions.
  • No compact chat mode, after 3 years "working on it".
  • Lack of basic user configurability, such as being able to choose fonts.
  • Not using native notifications.
  • Not having good, fine-grained notification control.
  • ... and lots more.

All of these should be prioritised ahead of things like video filters, or chat bubbles.

Occasional Visitor

I've been thinking about this—this looks like a good start. (My one anxiety is the sample image at the top feels like I'm on stage with an audience staring at me! Stage fright! There's probably not a good way to simulate sitting around a table.)

New Contributor

Exciting !!! Waiting to see this experience for Team meetings and townhalls, get togethers etc.,

Senior Member

I recognized that the mode is only available when there are multiple users in the meeting. It is not available for 3 but was available for 20+.  Is there a defined number when the mode is enabled?

Senior Member

Hi Jason! Thank you for your great in-depth explanation of this upcoming feature. You said "...We would love for you to try out the first release of Together Mode...". Our IT squad would love to be included in the trials of new features. Where do we sign up?

Senior Member

Hi everyone

 

what is the minimun the user for this feature ?

Occasional Visitor

I was using Together Mode and when I switched back to Gallery mode, people's video images were turned off. I had to leave the meeting, and rejoin. 

 

I went to my settings and unselected "Turn on new meeting experience (New meetings and calls will open in separate windows. Requires restarting Teams.)" Then when I opened Teams again, I still have the new features, but the option is still unselected. 

New Contributor

You need a min of 5 people to activate together mode 

Senior Member

Did you found the fount in Microsoft website? Thanks very much

Senior Member

This appeared in our tenant this week. I gave it a try during a training meeting and the team I was working with loved it. However. . . can you turn it off during a meeting once you have turned it on? We got to a point where we wanted to turn it off and focus on what was being presented and I couldn't find a way to do that. I was able to turn it on under the other options, but even if everyone shut off their video it still displayed in the screen. This is one downfall of the feature IMHO. Overall, we thought it was fun and a fantastic way to interact. But sometimes you just want to focus on the topic of the meeting without the visual interactions.

Senior Member

Hi KarenD69

 

We used the Together Mode for the first time for a meeting and I shared my screen for the incoming team members to see (much to their delight). As a part of my presentation, I talked with the team about how to download and apply the newest version, and where to find Together Mode once the "Turn on new meeting experience" option was selected in Settings.

We found above the choice in the ellipsis where "Together Mode" is found (In the PC version) there are the choices "Large Gallery" and "Gallery". Clicking "Gallery" takes you back to the old format. Hope this helps!

Occasional Visitor

Can we do Custom Together mode - i.e. upload our own photo with some 'location map' info(to position people on the custom photo)?

Frequent Contributor

See Show video for all people in Video meeting 

Large gallery view (7×7 videos) and Together mode are available to the public for desktop & mobile.
https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/17010055-show-video-for-all-pe...

 

 

Contributor

But why everyone need to activate it?

I think it's interesting if everyone use this mode. So it should be a presenter that activate it foreveryone no?

Occasional Visitor

I've just tried to do a recording in together mode and it did record, but only four people visible on screen as opposed to all we had at the meeting.

How does recording work in stadium or together mode? Is there an option to have all people present in the recording?

Please let us know, thanks