How to create and edit topics for your Power Virtual Agents chatbots on Microsoft Teams

Dave W. Shanahan


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Now that you learned how to create Power Virtual Agents chatbots on Microsoft Teams, you may be wondering how you add content to your bot. You can create topics by customizing Microsoft provided templates, create a new topic from scratch, or get suggestions from existing help websites.

If you ran into any issues creating your bot from the previous guide, check the known issues with creating a bot.

Topics for Power Virtual Agents chatbots

In Power Virtual Agents (PVA), a topic determines how a bot answers a question from a user. When you create a PVA bot in Teams, the bot is given four lessons where you can see examples of topics. These four lessons range from simple to complex scenarios that use conditional branching and custom entities.

There are trigger phrases too, which are phrases, keywords, or questions that a user is likely to type to start a conversation with a bot. Conversation nodes are what you use to figure out how a bot should respond to trigger phrases.

The topics given to your PVA chatbot are examples meant to learn how to create content for your bots and are not intended for production use. You can use these lessons as templates and edit them so they will work for your use case. Use these four lesson topics to understand how your bot uses topics to interact with users.

Use sample and system Topics

When you create a bot, several topics are automatically created and fall into two categories:

  • User Topicsfour preloaded “lesson” topics help to understand simple to complex ways to create bot conversations. You can edit these topics in the same manner as topics you create. You can also delete them entirely if you prefer.
  • System Topics – These preloaded topics are available for examples of conversational language used during a bot conversation. You can’t delete, disable, or edit the trigger phrases of these topics, but you can customize the nodes on the authoring canvas. These topics should not be changed unless you are comfortable authoring an end-to-end bot conversation.

A terrific way to familiarize yourself with your chatbot Topics is to explore the Topics tab in the PVA app on Teams. Here’s what to do.

1. Open Microsoft Teams on your desktop.
2. Click the Power Virtual Agents app from the side pane of Teams.
3. Click Chatbots at the top of the page.
5. Click My chatbots to see a list of your chatbots.
6. Click the chatbot you want to edit.
7. Click Topics above to open the Topics section.
power virtual agents chatbots

Once you are finished, you should see all the Topics listed. As you can see, you can toggle User Topics on and off, but that is not the case for the User Topics as they can’t be edited. power virtual agents chatbots

It’s a good idea to click through the topics to see how they are constructed in PVA. Click through the four User Topics listed, review the topic title, description, and see the trigger phrases used in each interaction. Click through each System Topic to see the bot’s flow, including the bot’s comments, expected user responses, decision points, and entity references.

Create a Topic

If you are following along with this guide, then you can already see how to create a new topic. Follow these steps to add a new topic.

1. Click New Topic tab at top.
2. Choose From Blank to create a new, empty topic.
power virtual agents chatbots

Once the new empty topic is created, you will be taken to the trigger phrases screen.

power virtual agents chatbots

3. Here, you will need to enter 5-10 trigger phrases to teach your chatbot different alternative ways that someone might ask about your topic. Follow the writing tips given and when you are finished entering trigger phrases, click Details. Enter your custom topic’s Name and Display name of your topic.
4. Click Save to save your topic.

Topic errors

When you save a topic, PVA will notify you of any issues from within Teams. In my case, I neglected to include a message for the chatbot to respond with to the trigger phrases. When faced with any error message, click Save again in the prompt to confirm you are saving your topic with errors.
power virtual agents chatbots
It’s important to note that PVA is monitoring your flows so that they function as intended. Errors will prevent the bot from working and must be fixed before you publish your bot. Warnings won’t stop the bot from working, but they may cause individual topics to not work as they should, so you should try to fix them when possible.
power virtual chatbots

Suggest topics

There is a way you can import existing help text and automatically create topics for your chatbot, so you don’t have to re-create more questions and answers for your bot. For example, you may already have a FAQ page available that you want to use, like this one for Microsoft Search. So how do you import this website content to use with your bot? Follow these steps to find out.

1. Click Suggest topics
power virtual agents chatbots
2. Paste the link of the content you want to use. In this case, we are using the Microsoft Search FAQ page. Click Add next to the link you pasted to add the linked content. When you are finished submitting links, press Start.power virtual agents chatbots
3. You will be brought back to the Topics page with the following message appearing at the top:
“Getting your suggestions. This may take several minutes.”
You won’t be able to add more URLs while the Suggest topics feature is running.
Once the extraction is complete, you will see the newly extracted Suggested topics available in the Topics section.

power virtual agents chatbots

Select the topic suggestions you want to use from the list, select Add to topics to add the topics you want. You can continue to use Add to topics whenever you want to edit any suggested topics on your bot.


You already learned how to create a bot, and now you know how to add content to your bot in Teams. Next, we will examine how to enable enhanced AI features and share and publish your bot with your colleagues and beyond on Microsoft Teams.

Have any questions about Power Virtual Agents chatbots so far? Let us know in the comments!