Live Events, Whiteboards & one live OneNote.

Live Events are becoming more and more popular. They are however limited in collaboration side: you can interact with audience using Q&A functionality (they ask questions, you answer them). What about Whiteboards or OneNotes and Live Events?

Note: No, you can’t share OneNote to Live Event in a way that everyone could collaborate and ink in it together. And no – there is no feature that allows you to enable live whiteboard to audience. And sharing an editable OneNote to hundreds-thousands of attendees will not work either.
OneNote will simply choke and most likely it won’t work the way you imagine. But if you think about a subset of Live Event attendees: smaller rooms/groups of people or even using that withing your organization with limited number of co-authors –> then you are talking. In some cases even larger audience might work, but the risk of slowing, errors and issues will rise.

Creation of Live Event

First, let’s create a Live Event to start with. There has been slight changes to UI so it is good to have an update. You can setup a Live Event with Teams web client but to present in a Live Event you always need to use Teams Desktop client.

You start by going to Calendar and using the drop-down on the right instead of just clicking “+ New meeting”

You give your Live Event title, details and invite other presenters in as well. You can invite people from other organizations.

First you choose the type – is it Org-wide or Public usually.

After that you need to put settings in

You can choose up to 6 translation languages (yes, Klingon & Finnish are there! ) and decide between three spoken languages: English, German and Chinese. This applies to all presenters.

Remember to check Q&A on!

If you have a support URL you can enter it there.

Now you can get two links: Attendee link (for viewing) and standard Teams meeting JOIN-link for presenters. Don’t share presenters link to anyone but intended presenters.

Before starting the real event, it is a good practice to create another Live Event with presenters and have a tech check session: making sure that all presenters know what to do in the actually event and that they can join as presenters.

Remember also that once a Live Event is started you can not end and restart it. That is why a separate Live Event is required for tech testing.

Sharing a Whiteboard to Live Event

Of course the easiest way to share a Whiteboard to Live Event is to share your desktop and use Whiteboard app so it is shown to the people online.

And once you have started the event audience can see your Whiteboard.

What is this good for? In case you are a heavy Whiteboard user in real world and you want to use a digital Whiteboard to share your ideas to the audience – this is a good option. Of course this is nothing else but 1. Share your screen 2. Use Whiteboard

Just pay attention to which screen you are sharing and what you are showing to your audience. A second monitor is heavily advised to be used. Since not that many external monitors support pen/touch you may have to “reverse” your screens so your laptop main screen is the one you use to present. Windows Focus Assist and Teams /DND (do not disturb) are good option to be used to reduce unwanted messages or info popping up to the screen.

What about co-authoring Whiteboard?

If you are doing a in-org presentation you can share your work Whiteboard to your colleagues using Whiteboard Invite-function.

If you want to share Whiteboard with externals and you have a public event: all your presenters and Whiteboard-authors should login to Whiteboard using Microsoft Accounts and you just share the Whiteboard to them normally. You can’t currently mix Office 365 and Microsoft Accounts so it requires a bit more organizing to get everyone to log in using MA. If you want to do this you can create a sharing link from the same place you would add other authors in Office 365 version.

Then just share the sharing link to all authors and instruct them to login to Whiteboard with Microsoft Account.

This way you can have co-authoring in Whiteboard even with some Live Events attendees. No, this is not a Live Event feature but something you can do with Microsoft Whiteboard and thinking how to use it smartly in a Live Event or any other meeting.

Live OneNote in Live Events

You can share a OneNote to Live Event in a similar way. Instead of PowerPoint or browser (demo 😀 ) you conjure OneNote to the screen and do work there. Of course you can share OneNote within organization easily, but also to externals. But as I warned – OneNote co-authoring may not survive hundreds of simultaneous editors. And in Live Event you can have thousands of attendees.

A better practice is to share OneNote book to portion of people enables them to work on it and everyone else (rest of the attendees) see what is going on. And you can share OneNote book for the rest of attendees in a read only mode.

Let’s create a book for sharing

Open OneDrive (unless you know you have a external sharing enabled for a team) and create a new book for sharing. Since sharing applies always to the whole book it is important to use a book that doesn’t have any content you don’t want to share

Create some preliminary content (structure) and when you are ready share the book.

Click on “Anyone with the link can edit” to change some settings


For those who edit the content you want to create this link that has “Allow editing” on.

Set the expiry date so that it ends after the session (or when you want to revoke the access to the book). It is of course best to remove the link manually after the meeting/event but with expiry it is deactivated automatically in case you forget.

If you think that the link may end up in incorrect hands too easily you can also provide a password that is needed to access the book.

After that hit Apply and choose to either add emails or Copy link & deliver it to authors via Teams or by other means.

And guest contributors can now edit OneNote book even anonymously.

What about viewing?

A new link is created for viewing. It is almost the same procedure: Allow editing is not checked. Since you know that people using this link can’t edit it you may have a different expiry date.


It is quite easy to share to all Live Events attendees using Q&A Announcement:

This way you can continue presenting your Live Event show and share notes, pictures and other materials in OneNote you just shared to the audience.

Will sharing OneNote in a Live Event to hundreds-thousands really work?

I have to admit, I didn’t test with hundreds-thousands of people. I don’t have that kind of testing environments or even have been to events that would support the idea “hey, let’s test this”. However, this is an idea I will test in the future in some of my sessions.

Using a view-only OneNote sharing isn’t as resource heavy as allowing people to edit it – the big question is will it survive if it is opened in read-only mode by thousands of people simultaneously. Of course: sharing it via a screen in Live Event is 100% guaranteed solution that works – but it does not allow interactions with links or copying text off from it.

In reality in the event not all people would open the OneNote book via the link you post as announcement (just think how many answer to polls ..) – only those who are the most curious about it. So that is why it is good also to share it via desktop as well – at least occasionally to keep everyone on track.

There isn’t any published upper limits (at least I wasn’t able to find them) that would apply to Office Online. However OnPremise SharePoint 2013 had the hard max at 99 (but performance dropped after 10) and after 99 people with read only permissions could still view it. I expect Office Online do better than that.

Even without sharing OneNote to everyone in the meeting – use Whiteboard or OneNote via shared screen to keep your audience captured and enable them to follow your live inking. OneNote also makes it easy to add multiple contributors so you can keep your screen shared for the audience and people from different locations can do their edits.

The point of this post is that think creatively and think how you can use Office 365 tools creatively in work, life, meetings or in Live Events. If something isn’t specifically supported think what you are trying to achieve (goal) and what other means there is to get there.

PS. Thank you if you read all this post. Please leave a comment!

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