How does Microsoft Teams decide which users will *remain* onscreen during a video call?

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New Contributor

How does Microsoft Teams decide which users will remain onscreen during a video call?

 

Obviously, people who talk on a Teams call will get added to the 2x2 grid. But how does Teams decide who stays there (seemingly for the entire meeting though others have talked)?

 

I have found at least three competing theories as to how Teams decides who to keep in its four-person grid. These are based on what I have read from different sources and at different points in time.

  • Theory #1: Teams shows the most recent (4) people who have spoken.
  • Theory #2: Teams shows the (4) most active talkers.
  • Theory #3: Teams combines Theory #1 and Theory #2 using a secret ancient algorithm, not meant for modern mankind to know.

Some of my meeting participants are losing their minds because they tell me we end up watching -- in addition to the presenter -- the three clueless people out of a 40-person meeting who spoke once at the beginning of the Teams call and read the newspaper on camera for the rest of the meeting.

 

Last week, someone began circulating the rumor that we need to turn off our cameras when not talking so that Teams can "pick" someone else more deserving of the spotlight to show on the screen.

 

Who has the definitive answer that I can share with my team, preferably backed with a Microsoft Doc or other official piece.

 

I have tried to figure this out by myself but haven't established a pattern yet. People occasionally get displayed when they're not talking but I am not sure if it is because they have a barking dog in the background (haven't been watching the "Meeting Participants" tab to see who's talking).

9 Replies
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@DustinHarrisAccording to this article "Teams tries to anticipate what you’ll want to see in a meeting. When someone starts speaking, we show them. When someone shares content, we show that."

You can pin a video:

To focus on a particular video, right click and select Pin. The video will be pinned to your view regardless of who's talking. You can pin as many videos as will fit on your screen. If you change your mind, right click again and hit Unpin.

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@Tomas_S This is quite helpful. I will have another large meeting later this week that will be a prime opportunity to try the tips from the article you posted. 

 

My best guess as to why people remain in the 2x2 grid without talking is that their mic isn't muted, so Teams is interpreting the background noise at their location as talking. I need to watch the Meeting Participants list to prove this theory.

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I have the same question, now that the 3x3 layout (i.e. 9 participants) has been rolled out. I love that I can see 9 people now, but in a recent meeting where there were approximately 120 people in the meeting, the layout didn't change every time a new person spoke. Anyone who wasn't speaking was muted, yet a few people who barely spoke, or didn't speak at all, remained on the screen for almost the entire hour-long meeting. I was told by several people that they could see me for most of the meeting, well before I spoke and afterward. I only unmuted myself briefly, for a 30 second comment, then muted myself again. Yet even after 9 additional people spoke, I still remained on people's screens. On my own screen there were a few people who didn't speak at all, nor did they have any "activity" going on around them, yet they remained on the screen. Why is that?

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@NadiaB  I had the same issue while conducting a meeting with 100+ participants. Certain attendees saw the same group of 9 individuals for the entirety of the meeting, and for others, it flipped/flopped correctly, based on who was speaking or presenting and thereafter. Did you get any further clarification around this? 

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@MikeMotilal unfortunately, no... still waiting for a response.

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@NadiaB Hey, for what it's worth here's a quote from Microsoft.

 

"For more than 9 participants, we will prioritize those with video on and show them on the stage. Participants with audio will be shown below the meeting stage. To provide a high audio and video quality experience, the layout logic will consider user bandwidth and alter the number of videos shown to provide the best meeting experience."

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@bec064  Thank you - that helps a little, but I'm not 100% clear on the statement "the layout logic will consider user bandwidth and alter the number of videos shown". Does this mean that users with the best/strongest bandwidth are shown, over those with less? E.g. I am using a desktop PC connected directly with an Ethernet cable, but I know that most of our staff are currently using WiFi with laptops or tablets. Is that why my face showed and remained on the screen even though many more than 9 people spoke after I signed in?

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@NadiaB Hello Nadia! To be honest, I don't know exactly how it works behind the scenes. But as user bandwidth is considered, and there's a performance difference using a cable, it could very well fit your scenario.

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@bec064  Ok, that makes sense. Thanks again for your help!