Cardboard cut out of speech bubbles on bright pink background and Title Slide Saying 'the difference between a conversation and chat in Microsoft Teams' 
By | Published On: 28 August 2020 |

As part of our Getting Started on Microsoft Teams blog series, this blog looks at the difference between a conversation and chat in Microsoft Teams, and when we should use them. 

Communicating with colleagues is a huge part of working in Teams – in fact, it is what Teams is all about. But there are differences between chatting inside and outside of channels.  

Communicating inside a channel is called a conversation. Conversations are for everyone in that channel and are deemed to be public and for all channel members. By their very nature, they invite others to respond and participate, so we need to consider that when writing our post. 

Microsoft Teams chat takes place outside of the channel. You write messages using the Chat function down the left-hand navigation on your screen. Chats are between two or more people and are private in nature. You determine who is privy to the chat, and only the chat participants can see what you’ve shared. 

Simple, right?! Let us explain further… 


Let’s talk about conversations  

When to initiate a conversation 

A conversation is perfect when you have something everyone needs to know. This could be a big announcement for your team, a project update or a call for feedback. You can even use conversations to celebrate team members, share good news or publicly acknowledge someone’s achievements. 

They are two-way, so expect and encourage people to respond. This may include asking directly for thoughts or feedback, or allowing people to interact with the conversation by posing questions of them. They may choose to respond with text or simply give your post a thumbs up if they agree with what you’re saying. 


How to create a conversation 

If you want to start a new conversation, move to the team channel you require. Left click the Start a new conversation edit field near the bottom of the screen and start typing your message.   

When you have finished typing your post, use the ENTER key to post it to the channel.  

TIP: Although your message text wraps automatically to the next line, you may need to force a new line sometimes. You can do this quickly using the shortcut key of SHIFT ENTER.  

NB: There are ways to make your conversation stand out, including ways to format it which we will cover in a future blog coming soon. 


How to reply to a conversation 

In Teams, conversations appear in a threaded form with the most recent conversation thread at the bottom of the screen. If you are navigating using a mouse or a touchscreen, you can scroll upwards through the messages, select the conversation you want to respond to and click Reply. This will bring up a text box and allow you to add your contribution to the discussion. 


Let’s look at Microsoft Teams chat

When to have a Microsoft Teams chat 

We all love a good chat, and it’s sometimes nice to get away from the group and discuss something in more detail with one or more other people. This could be a good way to iron out some finer details, ask questions you’re not comfortable asking in a public environment or seek counsel on something you need help with. 

You can do this in Microsoft Teams by using the Chat function down the left-hand side navigation. 


How do you start a Microsoft Teams chat? 

Simply go into Chat, decide who you want to chat with and click the new chat icon on the top navigation, and then type in the name of the person you want to chat with in the box at the top. The drop your cursor down the page to the box at the bottom of the screen that says Type a new message. 

When you have finished typing your message, click ENTER to post it in the Chat. 


How to reply to a chat 

Unlike a conversation, there is no thread with a chat, so to reply you just type your response in the grey box at the bottom of the screen. 

Often in chat, the tone of the conversation is a little less formal, especially if it’s between two people or a small group who know each other well. You may be more inclined to use abbreviations, emojis and even gifs or stickers.  

We have a whole blog on these coming soon, so keep an eye out if you’d like to learn more about making the most of Teams Chat. 

Changing Social is a certified Microsoft Adoption and Change Management Partner. We specialise in Microsoft Adoption and Change to help our clients adopt Office 365 in weeks not months. If you would like to adopt Office 365 in your organisation and would like to find out more about our services, including bespoke Office 365 training, please contact us at [email protected]. 


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