As the organizer of the MS Excel Toronto Meetup group, I wanted to find a tool that would allow us to continue to host the meetup sessions online after the Covid-19 outbreak. The requirements for the tool were the following: to allow me to run a webinar-type session with one or more presenters and someone else helping to manage the attendees’ questions. I searched and inquired around and received a wide variety of tips from which two tools stood out: Microsoft Teams (Teams) and Zoom.

Zoom seems quite easy to use and has been trendy for the past few months until major security issues with this tool became known. After that, I am definitely not interested in considering Zoom anymore, but even before that, it would have implied a paid version to get the features to fit my event online requirements. I realized that if I already had Teams included on my Office 365 plan, then I would be better off taking advantage of that fact and all the other possibilities that Teams offer and that I was not using.

I set myself on a mission of discovering the options available with Teams to set up an online event. I set myself on a mission of discovering the options available with Teams to set up an online event. I am not an expert on Office 365 plans, and I had not used Teams until now. I thought that moving the meetup events to Teams would be a straightforward process, but it ended up becoming much more challenging than expected. And this already explains why Zoom has gained so much popularity. Not everyone would have had the same patience I did to navigate through Microsoft Teams’ puzzle of plans and ways of dealing with each functionality according to the Office 365 subscription in use. Still, I insisted on continuing my discovery journey, mostly because I did not expect it to be so complicated as it ended up being. In this article, I am sharing what I have learned.

For those walking the same path as me, my advice is for you to study all the information below. You may find that you need to set aside more time than expected to be able to deal with the technical aspects until all is finally ready for you to use Teams.

Options available on Microsoft Teams to host an online event

To set a scheduled online event on Teams, I am considering two options: Meeting or Live Event. If you are in the same quest as I was, the first question you need to answer is: Do you have an Office 365 license that is not a Home or Personal subscription? If your answer is not “Yes,” then Teams is not an option for you as an event host, unless you are ready to acquire a suitable Office 365 subscription. But if you check the price of each tool, you might find to be a better deal for you to switch to an Office 365 Business subscription than acquiring a Zoom license. As of today, a license of Office 365 Business Premium costs CAD 16.00 per user per month, and a Zoom Pro license costs CAD 20.00 per host per month. And Zoom is only Zoom… whilst Microsoft 365 Business Premium is Teams, Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint, besides many other things. Not to mention that a meeting on Teams holds up to 250 attendees, and a meeting on Zoom only accepts 100 people.

I think these are enough reasons to consider Microsoft Teams and move to a proper Office 365 license if you have to.

Before going into the requirements to be the host of a Meeting or Live Event on Teams, please know that anyone can join a Live Event or a meeting as a participant, without even having an Office 365 account.

To have access to the functionalities on Teams that allow you to schedule a Meeting or a Live Event, you need an Office 365 account with the appropriate Office 365 license plan. Otherwise, you can use Microsoft Teams Free with any other Office 365 account, but it does not give you access to set scheduled Meetings or Live Events. If you have an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription, only Microsoft Teams free is available for you.

I know it sounds complicated. And it is! Microsoft sure does have much room for improvements in Teams when it comes to making things easier for the user. I created a diagram that I hope helps you to understand what your options are as a host of an online event (Meeting or Live Event) on Teams. Further below, I help you with the more technical questions. Keep in mind that any changes that you need to make on your Microsoft 365 admin center may take several hours to become effective and available to you on Teams.