Getting started with Microsoft Copilot in Microsoft 365

Getting started with Copilot

Buckle up! Microsoft MVP Andy Huneycutt (@AndyHuneycutt) takes you on a journey through harnessing Copilot’s features, ensuring both beginners and those looking to deepen their knowledge can optimize their experience.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, productivity and efficiency are not just goals but necessities.

Microsoft 365 has been at the forefront of providing tools that empower individuals and teams to achieve more with less effort. The introduction of Copilot into the Microsoft 365 suite marks a significant leap forward in this endeavor.  

I’ll walk you through Copilot—helping you understand it, set it up in your Microsoft 365 environment, navigate its interface, and employ its features to maximize your productivity—whether you’re a first-time user or looking to deepen your knowledge of Copilot’s capabilities. 

Understanding Microsoft Copilot

What is Microsoft Copilot?  

Microsoft Copilot is your AI-powered digital assistant, providing tailored support across various tasks. It goes beyond just linking ChatGPT with Microsoft 365.

By harnessing large language models (LLMs) and syncing with your Microsoft Graph data (like calendar events, emails, chats, documents, and meetings), Copilot turns your words into a productivity asset.

Whether you need instant chat suggestions, assistance in drafting documents, composing emails, or crafting presentations, Copilot helps boost teamwork and simplify decision-making.

The role of Copilot in Microsoft 365  

Copilot enhances the functionality of various Microsoft 365 apps by providing intelligent suggestions, automating repetitive tasks, and facilitating data analysis.  

Microsoft 365 Copilot: Enhances communication and collaboration across Microsoft 365 apps. 

  • Use case: Provides real-time suggestions for chat replies based on the context of the conversation, making sure your responses are timely and on point. It also helps you draft documents, emails, and presentations right in the chat, making collaboration smoother and enabling faster decision-making.  

Teams: Facilitates meeting summaries and action items. 

  • Use case: Automatically generates meeting notes and action items from a transcribed Teams meeting, ensuring all participants are on the same page.  

Outlook: Assists in composing emails. 

  • Use case: Drafts a professional response to a complex inquiry by summarizing the key points from a lengthy email thread.  

Word: Helps draft documents. 

  • Use case: Automatically generates a report outline based on a few bullet points summarizing the main findings. 

Excel: Analyzes trends and summarizes data. 

  • Use case: Creates a summary of sales trends over the past year, highlighting key growth periods without manual analysis. 

PowerPoint: Helps design presentations and suggest content. 

  • Use case: Generates a presentation based on a document outline, complete with suggested designs and layouts for each slide. 

OneNote: Organizes notes and information. 

  • Use case: Summarizes key points from a series of linked notes to prepare a comprehensive project overview. 

Loop: Enhances collaboration by dynamically updating shared workspaces. 

  • Use case: Real-time collaboration on a project plan, where updates are instantly reflected across all participant views. 

Whiteboard: Facilitates brainstorming sessions with intelligent suggestions. 

  • Use case: Automatically organizes brainstorming session outputs into structured categories, making it easier to review and action ideas. 

Forms: Streamlines the creation and analysis of surveys and quizzes. 

  • Use case: Suggests questions based on the survey goal and analyzing responses to highlight trends and insights. 

This integration ensures that Copilot is an asset across various tasks, streamlining workflows and boosting efficiency.  

Benefits of using Copilot  

The primary benefits of using Copilot include: 

  • Streamlining tasks and reducing the time spent on routine activities. 
  • Improving efficiency by providing quick access to information and suggestions. 
  • Assisting in data analysis and decision-making through advanced AI capabilities. 

Dive deeper into Copilot: Key things IT pros should know

Basic navigation and commands

Navigating the Copilot Interfaces  

The Copilot interface is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, seamlessly integrating into the Microsoft 365 applications you’re already familiar with. Here’s how you can navigate the Copilot features across different M365 applications: 

Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Access Copilot through the command bar and sidebar, where you can input requests, view suggestions, and apply changes directly to your document, spreadsheet, or presentation. 

Copilot Interface

Outlook: In the email composition window, Copilot can be activated to suggest content based on the context of your email or the recipient’s information.

Draft With Copilot In Outlook

Teams: Copilot features can be accessed within chat conversations or during meetings for real-time assistance and collaboration. 

Copilot Within Teams Chat

OneNote, Loop, Whiteboard, Forms: Copilot is integrated into the editing and creation tools, offering suggestions and assistance as you work on your projects. 


Understanding each Copilot’s limits is important. While it can generate content, summarize data, and offer suggestions, it may not always interpret complex, nuanced requests perfectly. I recommend reviewing its suggestions and ensuring they meet your specific needs.

Check out Microsoft’s technical documentations for an overview of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and a summary of Copilot’s capabilities

Essential commands and features  

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a set of basic commands and features to start using Copilot effectively: 

  • Ask questions: Type a question or request in natural language, and Copilot will provide a response or action. For example, “Summarize the key points from this document” in Word. 
  • Create drafts: Request Copilot to draft emails, documents, or presentations by providing a brief outline of what you need. 
  • Summarize content: Copilot can quickly summarize lengthy documents, emails, or presentations, highlighting the main points or actions needed. 

Copilot prompts 

You can prompt Copilot for more creative tasks, such as generating ideas, brainstorming, or even creating templates based on minimal input. 

Copilot Prompts
Learn more about Copilot prompts in Microsoft’s technical documentation.


Drafting an email in Outlook: Ask Copilot to draft an email announcing a new project to your team, providing just the project name and objectives. 

Draft An Email

Creating a data summary in Excel: Request Copilot to analyze a dataset and summarize the sales trends for the past quarter, including key growth drivers.

Data Summary

Generating a meeting summary in Teams: After a meeting is transcribed, prompt Copilot to generate a summary and list of action items based on the meeting’s recording or chat history. 

From your Teams meeting chat, go to the Recap tab and open Copilot. 

Meeting Summary

These examples show the versatility and power of Copilot in streamlining tasks and enhancing productivity across the Microsoft 365 suite. 

Tips for first-time users

Best practices  

Adopting a new tool like Microsoft Copilot can significantly enhance your productivity and efficiency in handling various tasks across the Microsoft 365 suite. To get the most out of Copilot from the start, consider these best practices and tips for first-time users: 

  • Keep requests clear and simple: Copilot’s performance heavily relies on the clarity of the instructions it receives. Phrase your requests clearly and concisely to improve the accuracy of Copilot’s responses and suggestions. 
  • Review Copilot suggestions: Always review the content generated or suggested by Copilot. While it’s designed to be highly accurate, it’s crucial to ensure that the output aligns with your specific needs and expectations. 
  • Prompting tips and tricks: Experiment with different prompts to understand how Copilot responds to several types of requests. Learning the nuances of prompting can help you get more precise and useful assistance from Copilot. 
  • Iterative feedback: Copilot learns from interactions. Providing feedback on its suggestions can help improve its accuracy and relevance over time, tailoring its performance to better suit your needs. 

Common pitfalls to avoid  

  • Neglecting to review Copilot suggestions: This is so important, that it’s worth repeating. Always review the content generated or suggested by Copilot. While it’s designed to be highly accurate, it’s crucial to ensure that the output aligns with your specific needs and expectations.  
  • Relying too much on automation: While Copilot is a powerful tool, it’s essential to remember that it’s an assistant, not a replacement for human oversight. Always apply your judgment to the suggestions and content generated by Copilot. 
  • Ignoring details and context: Copilot may not always fully grasp the context or nuances of a task, especially in complex or highly specialized fields. Be prepared to adjust its suggestions to better fit the specific context of your work. 
  • Failing to use all the features available: Copilot offers a wide range of capabilities across the Microsoft 365 suite. Explore them to fully leverage Copilot’s potential in streamlining your workflows. 

Let’s recap

Microsoft Copilot represents a significant advancement in how we interact with the Microsoft 365 suite, offering a range of tools and features designed to enhance productivity and efficiency.

By understanding its capabilities, navigating its interface, and applying best practices, you can effectively integrate Copilot into your daily workflows.

Remember, the key to maximizing Copilot’s benefits lies in clear communication, reviewing its suggestions, and continuously exploring its features. Experiment with Copilot and discover new ways it can assist you in your work. 

In the next article in this series, we’ll dive deeper into advanced Copilot features and use cases. 

Additional resources

For more information on getting started with Microsoft Copilot and to explore official guides, tutorials, or FAQ, visit the following links: 


Q: Can Copilot handle sensitive or confidential information securely?

A: Yes, Microsoft has implemented robust security measures to ensure that interactions with Copilot are secure. However, it’s important to follow your organization’s policies regarding the handling of sensitive information.

To learn more, refer to Microsoft’s documentation about data, privacy, and security for Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Q: How does Copilot integrate with existing workflows?

A: Copilot is designed to seamlessly integrate with the Microsoft 365 suite, enhancing existing workflows without requiring significant changes to how you work. The key is to start simple, explore features, understand limitations, and gradually integrate Copilot into more complex workflows.

Q: Can I customize Copilot’s suggestions to better fit my needs?

A: While direct customization options may be limited, providing feedback and refining your prompts can help tailor Copilot’s responses to your preferences over time.

Andy Huneycutt is a Microsoft MVP, SharePoint, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Teams expert and trainer. Since 2010, his experience as a Microsoft Certified Professional has helped him develop effective training solutions for businesses. He is also the president of Upskill Tech, a company dedicated to helping workers to better understand and successfully implement Microsoft solutions. 

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