Channel vs Chat ? When to use what in Microsoft Teams

When Microsoft Teams Users tend to chat privately naturally, using the conversation feature, some guidance shall be provided.

Summary of some important features :

  • Channels are public to the team, conversation are privated to their members.
  • A Channel message do not notifies users by default, conversations do.
  • Chat history is shown automatically in a channel and optionnally in a conversation.
  • Channels support more apps interactions. Both supports tabs where applications go, but channel have more application such as planner and many other connectors, bots and teams meeting recorded as video in Stream.

Channels for team collaboration, app and main information

What goes in a channel ?

  • Communication you would send to people as CC in an email surely go to a channel as it does not notify users.
  • Communication in an open space.
  • Important announcements, information.
  • On the spot meeting with your team.
  • To use apps using tabs channel (onenotes, planner, website, a sharepoint library etc)

Chat for day to day operational conversation

Users can create 1:1 or multiple people conversation. No need to create a Team for an on the spot conversation.

When using a conversation

  • Each message notifies users so use it when you need immediate answers from ALL those colleague.
  • Think about it as a phone call or a skype chat, some info you don’t want to save for the team…
  • That is why day to day discussion, information that could be deleted or forgotten, go to a conversation. The entire team DONT need to know about those operational chats.
  • Share images etc to explain what you need to your colleagues
  • Once an information or a decision shall be shared, share to the channel.


  • Channel for FYI message such as people as CC in an email
  • Channel for Actionable conversation to certain team members (using @name in a channel).
  • Chat to replace phone call or direct Skype message when you need quick answer from a limited group of colleagues. Use it wisely as it would create notification to every conversation members.


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