A few days ago I presented a training class to about a dozen people attending our annual Policyholder Meeting. This year the meeting was in Disney World and my training was an optional activity at 8:00 on the last day. So, I had one hour to talk about SharePoint to an audience of current and potential users and I was the only thing between them and Mickey. My dilemma – what to include?
Of course, I really didn’t have an hour. After some housekeeping, introductions and allowing some time for a demo and questions, I really only had about half that time. I decided to spread my presentaiton around three goals: 1) Reducing frustration, 2) Highlighting essentials features, and 3) Sparking their imagination.
Easing frustration had to be goal #1, and is it any surprise that the topic of choice was navigation? Navigation on SharePoint has consistently been the most popular complaint from our employees and it has generated the most questions from our Internet users. We’ve taken several steps to improve navigation and we are making progress but not everyone in the room knew that. A quick review of Breadcrumbs, Tabs, Quick Launch options, My Links and our new graphic buttons, plus a couple of demos and we were moving on but I think they’re still a little overwhelmed by the multiple choices.
Key features are the things in SharePoint that make users say “wow, that’s so cool!” I reviewed the email we’ve received since we launched this service and the only thing that made people say “wow” was Alerts. Alerts are easy to explain but there are a couple of fine points that need to be mentioned. First, people have to specify Alerts on everything they are interested in. The second point is one we sometimes overlook, explaining who will be sending the alert. Ours are sent by Postmaster-at-our-domain and it does tend to look like spam. I also like to get people thinking about what they can do with the Alerts, particularly how they can combine Alerts and email Rules to get things moving (yes, a veiled precursor to workflows).
A little bit about Navigation and Alerts was probably as much as I could expect people to actually learn in a small amount of time. The last topic, the thing I just want them to think about was Collaboration. I think Collaboration is SharePoint’s Killer App so I always try to mention it, especially with remote users where it can be such a powerful tool.