Skype Meeting Broadcasts – Skype for Business’s Best Kept Secret

August 25, 2016
Editorial Staff

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Editorial Staff

Did you know that with your Office 365 subscription, you get the Skype Meeting Broadcast feature for Skype for Business? Skype Meeting Broadcast is a large scale meeting service that can host up to 10,000 attendees on any device, Mac, PC, Windows, Mobile, and even Linux devices through a web browser broadcast.

This is all based off Azure media services, which is the same technology behind the Olympics. It can scale to tens of thousands of attendees, and since it is part of your Office 365 subscription, you don’t pay extra for it! And best of all – you don’t need anything special from Azure.  And in the very near future it will do real time captioning of voice to text. But not just in English, it will be able to translate from a wide range of languages to other languages, like the universal translator in Star Trek.

This is a pretty robust platform, offering services that are commonly used in a large meeting. Take a webinar presentation, for example – Typically a webinar consists of one or two people talking with or without cameras, a PPT deck, and some Q&A in the web browser. Your marketing team would then want to post the video for on-demand viewing later. All of this is in Skype for Business out of the box.

In this scenario, there are only two components missing:

  1. Desktop or application sharing, though Microsoft is working on developing this for immediate release.
  2. Dial-in numbers, which is more appropriate to use for Skype for Business’s conferencing feature since Meeting Broadcasts is very specifically designed for sharing a presentation.

Licensing Requirements for Skype Meeting Broadcasts

I mentioned earlier that this is included with your Office 365 plan, that was partially true.  It is included with most plans, but here is the definitive guide on exactly what plans support this:

  • Non-profit, EDU, and commercial sectors
  • Enterprise E1, E3, and E5
  • Small Business Premium
  • Standalone Plan 2

Meeting Personas

There are a variety of “Personas” within the Skype Meeting Broadcasts:

  • Organizer: Creates the meeting request and invites attendees. Reviews meeting reports.
  • Producer: Manages the meeting sources (presentations, audio, video, and PowerPoint decks), records the event, and posts the recording to Office 365 Video.
  • Event team member: Participates in the meeting as a speaker or presenter. From a technical aspect, there is no difference between a producer and a presenter. It is a logical breakup so that the people doing the presenting don’t have to worry about flipping to the next person, or a different camera. Yes, you can use multiple cameras.
  • Attendee: Watches the event online via a web browser. The following browsers are supported: Internet Explorer 11, Chrome, Firefox, OSX Safari, iOS 8 or later, Android (KitKat). However, there are certain issues with Firefox not being able to show Yammer Q&A.

This offers an incredibly flexible solution, especially around the Producer and Event team member roles. It allows for a team member to focus on looking at the camera; engaging the people, speaking clearly, and not fumble with the great problem of making sure the next person is ready. When the time comes to switch to a new presenter, the producer with a click of a button can change the speaker, camera, slide deck, or advance the slide without the presenter fumbling around. It makes for a smooth experience. A Producer and Event team member can be the same person on a single computer. They do not have to be separate.

Producers and Event team members have special client requirements. They must be running the following Skype for Business versions

  • Skype for Business 2015 client (Click-to-Run)
  • Skype for Business 2015 client (MSI), September Update, build 15.0.4747 or later
  • Skype for Business 2015 Basic client, September Update, build 15.0.4747 or later
  • Skype for Business 2016 client (Click-to-Run), 16.0.4227 or later
  • Skype for Business 2016 Basic client
  • Skype for Business 2015 client (Click-to-Run)
  • Lync for Mac 2011 (presenter only)

Who Can Attend a Skype Meeting Broadcast?

There are three categories of attendees:

  1. Anonymous: Anybody with the broadcast URL can attend
  2. Secure: Only specific people can attend based off their email address
  3. All Company: Only people within your company can attend, they will need a username and password.

Q&A, Polls, and Pulse

In any kind of broadcast meeting, people will have questions, and they may or may not have a Yammer account. If you are doing a town hall, you can utilize Yammer for Q&A. The advantage to this is that you now have a good thread that people can continue to update and ask questions, even after the broadcast has ended. There is also an anonymous Q&A feature when you are doing a broadcast with people outside your company, or if you don’t user Yammer (why are you not using Yammer may be a better question). With anonymous Q&A, people type their name and an email address, with no verification, and then only a team member can answer a question. With a Yammer feed, people from the community can answer as well. The last way to get information is to utilize Bing pulse. This will allow you to ask more environmental questions, for example their age range, industry, location, and company size.

Did I mention that you are most likely already licensed for this, and it’s included with your Office 365 subscription? So on your next town-hall or webinar, give it a shot, and increase your Return on Investment with your Office 365 subscription.

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