How to better use the Adobe Connect features and do tweaks for your virtual events

Below is a running list of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Adobe Connect sessions.

Hosts, presenters, and meeting attendees alike, can better their virtual meetings’, events’, and courses’ experience using these tips. Use the share buttons to help your network increases the mileage they get from Adobe Connect.

Meeting experience

  • For a smooth experience, connect using a wired Internet connection and close unnecessary VPN connections or proxies, WiFi hotspots, etc.
  • To know the quality of your network connection, click on the green button on the upper right corner of the meeting window. (More help.)
  • Use a solid-colored background image in an Adobe Connect room. Use your logo, if any, but do not use an image. Click Meeting > Preferences and then General. (More help.)
  • Avoid awkward silence in the room while you wait for the quorum, by uploading some music in MP3 format to a Share pod. (More help.)
  • Stop mousing around and prevent RSIs by knowing your way in an Adobe Connect meeting room using the keyboard. Click on Help > Keyboard Shortcuts in a meeting room. (More help.)
  • When ending a meeting, you can customize the message that is displayed to the attendees. You can use basic HTML tags in this message to format it. This is specially useful, when you want to leave the participants with a follow up action item, key takeaway, or your contact information after a session.
  • When ending a meeting, enter a URL in the Open This URL For Everyone field. It’ll open in the browsers of all the attendees, as soon as you end the meeting. You can direct participants to a resource page, your social media channel, a page seeking poll or feedback about the session, donation page, etc.

Pods

  • Before clearing your chat or Q&A pod history, you can email the contents to your email ID. (More help.)
  • While presenting you can turn off the chat notifications, to do a distraction free presentation. If possible, have a co-presenter monitor the chat or Q&A pod. (More help.)
  • To extend the functionality available in your Adobe Connect sessions you can create extensions or use the existing ones. See a list here.
  • You can delete all types of unused pods in one go. Go to Pods > Manage Pods, click Select Unused, and click Delete. (More help.)
  • Drag and drop a supported type of content on the Share pod to upload and share it quickly. (More help.)
  • If you do not want to have a webcam feed in your meeting room, say to conserve bandwidth, upload a photograph in a Share pod so everyone can see you.
  • If you wish to share some content across multiple meeting rooms, upload it to the Content Library and then share. Content added to a Share Pod is available only that particular meeting room.
  • Change the default color for your messages in the Chat pod. This helps others easily locate your messages from all the chat happening in the pod. (More help.)

For the Presenters

  • To change a layout during an ongoing meeting, use Prepare Mode. The preparation does not impact the live meeting. (More help.)
  • If the design of your slides is supported in Adobe Connect, upload it to a Share pod. If fonts or animations are not supported, then sharing the screen with PowerPoint open. It gives better quality & occupies less bandwidth. (More help.)
  • Presenters can use more than one Chat pod. Use a Chat pod in the Presenter Only Area (POA) to share information only between the Presenters. (More help.)
  • You can unsync you presentations or longer PDF files or quizzes to allow participants to absorb the contents independently, at their own pace.

Recordings

  • To edit the meeting recordings precisely and place your in and out markers accurately, pause where you want to place the markers and double click the marker. (More help.)
  • To get different chapters in the ‘TOC’ of your recording, use different layouts for logically different parts of your meeting. See the tip about renaming layouts.
  • When you are not sure of your audio set up, say when using UV and telephony, do a test recording of a few seconds before the actual virtual session by logging in from multiple devices and using all possible scenarios like speaking into the microphone, using mobile devices, and from a telephone. Revisit the recording to check for echos and to ensure that all audio streams are present in the recording.

In-meeting audio

  • To ensure clear audio through your microphones, especially when your seating, environment, or hardware changes, use the Audio Setup Wizard from the Meeting menu. It detects background noise and adjusts your audio accordingly. (More help.)
  • To avoid ‘echo’ or feedback, request participants in advance to not use a speaker and a microphone adjacent to each other. For example, a computer speaker and a mobile phone’s microphone or a computer speaker and a headset mic. When the speaker will blare out audio, the mic will pick it up and you’ll have feedback in the meeting room. You can test your own set up by either joining as a participant from a second device or by recording a 10 second meeting and listening to the recording. Also, a host can create a Notes pod in a meeting room that contains just this request for the participants.
  • You can selectively mute one or more attendees, without stopping or muting the audio conference. (More help.)

Courses and curriculum

  • When you add or remove items from a curriculum it impacts learner transcripts. If you really have to change curricula after enrolling learners, let your learners about the changes. Learners must log in to the curriculum to update their status.
  • If you are creating e-learning content using Adobe products, know that Adobe Presenter is best suited for rapid e-learning content based on Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Captivate is best suited for creating training materials or screencasting demos.
  • If a learner takes a course outside of a curriculum, ask the learner to log in to the curriculum once. The course completion status available in the curriculum is automatically updated.

Share the tips and tricks that you use with the wider community–post a comment below or blog your tips and share a link below.

SEO tip — Do not stuff keywords to avoid search engine penalty

Keyword stuffing: Definition from Google is “the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results.”

SEO myth: Keyword stuffing with get the traffic to my page for all the stuffed keywords. High density of the keywords matter.

Why not to do it: As users do not like to view stuffed pages, search engines also do not. Search engines penalize for stuffing. On the extreme a search engine may just drop a stuffed page from its index! If a page doesn’t come in search results, it may as well not exist on the web.

Do not artificially inflate your keyword density by deliberately looking for ways to add more keywords or their synonyms. Just write an article in the normal way that you’d write for a human reader.

Best practices and tips:

  • Keywords used on the site need to be relevant to the topic of the page and actually have to be used within the content on the page.
  • Don’t use hidden text.
  • Have your most targeted keywords appear once in Title tag, twice in Meta Description tag, three times in Meta Keywords tag, and four times within the content.
  • Do not use the same or generic Title tag and Description tag repeatedly on pages across the same site. Each page should be unique.

Reference:

http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66358

Keyboard shortcuts of project management platform Trello

Trello is one of the best web-based project management platform.

It is quite user-friendly and the neat keyboard shortcuts enhance its usability even further. A complete list is available at https://trello.com/shortcuts. In the demo below, I have covered the most relevant and useful shortcuts.

Shortcuts covered in the demo are:

  1. Use all 4 arrows keys to navigate between cards.
  2. Pressing “n” opens a pop-over that allows you to add a card after the currently selected card.
  3. Pressing the left or right angle brackets (< and >) will move a card to the adjacent left or right list.
  4. Pressing “m” opens the add / remove members menu. Clicking a member’s avatar will assign or unassign that person.
  5. Pressing “d” will open the due date picker for a card.
  6. Pressing “l” opens available labels. Press a label’s number to apply the label.

The best keyboard shortcut I like: Press ‘q’ to view only your cards. This applies a filter. Press ‘x’ to remove this (and any other) filters applied.

SEO tip – Provide unique Descriptions for articles to improve search engine snippets

A lot has already been said about SEO on the Internet.

I am starting a new series of SEO posts. But I am not going to re-invent the wheel here. In this I shall be summarizing the information as quick tips, in easy to grasp format, for technical communicators.

No fluff, just pure stuff!

SEO Task: Provide unique Description tag in head tag of the HTML.

Why do this:

  • Use description meta tags to provide both search engines and users with a summary of what your page is about.
  • While these improvements do not impact the rank directly, they go towards displaying better titles and snippets in search results. This increases user experience, reducess click-and-backtrack behavior, increase visitor traffic, and eventually backlinks from other sites.
  • Quoting Google, “Using identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site isn’t very helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we’re less likely to display the boilerplate text. Create descriptions that accurately describe each specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and consider using page-level descriptions everywhere else.

Best practices and tips:

  • Use only ~120 characters in the Description field.
    Tip: Using this description as a Tweet, you may want to post the link to your article on Twitter in 140 characters.
  • Try not to duplicate with keywords already present in the page title. Put in acronyms, synonyms, etc.
  • Do not populate with just the keywords.
  • Do not copy paste from the article’s content. Write a unique description.
  • No two pages on your website should have the same description.

References:

Filtering cards in Trello for more focus on specific tasks

Trello is a very user-friendly project management software. To make it even more usable, you can focus on your specific tasks by filtering your cards.

  • You can access all your cards, across all your boards, on one page at https://trello.com/my/cards. You can sort by your board by list and by due date. Cards are are shown in the order of lists from left to right.
  • You can see only the cards assigned to you to remove the clutter. This is useful when the board becomes large.
  • You can filter by due date to know where to focus right now.
  • Trello remembers your filters when you log in next.

I have covered these in the following demo.

Tip: To filter just your cards, press ‘Q’ on your keyboard when viewing a board. Remove this filter by pressing ‘Q’ or ‘X’.

Launch multiple instances of Acrobat Professional

You are running some complex work flow or Action on a large PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Professional and it hangs preventing you from working on another PDF document, in parallel.

Your Acrobat process crashes (feel lucky for being an audience to a rare phenomena 🙂 ), taking down unsaved work and you wish you could ‘sandbox’ the critical work from the regular work.

Because of a troublesome PDF document, you have to end the Acrobat.exe process using the Windows Task Manager. You wish other open PDF documents remain open and unaffected.

You are commenting in and annotating one PDF, while referring to another and do not want your comment to auto-close.

If  you relate to such instances, launch multiple instances of Acrobat, as different processes using acrobat /n command.

Command to launch multiple instances of AcrobatAnd if you are wondering if these really are different instances/processes and not just different windows, see the following screenshots.

Acrobat multiple windows

Acrobat multiple windows

Multiple Acrobat processes in Task Manager

Multiple Acrobat processes in Task Manager

Checking specific content across multiple guides in a documentation suite

If you have multiple documents in a doc suite and wish to check one or more content strings across them, read on to find out how you can do it using Adobe Acrobat.

Possible scenarios when you may need to do this are locating mentions of:

  • Product terminology for editorial or legal review.
  • Companies’ trademarks and third-party terms to check if proper symbols are applied or not. Or to apply them in the first place.
  • Product name/version in all docs, to update branding/versioning.
  • A feature or a keyword to do bug fixes across documents.
  • Keywords and related words for SEO purposes.
Use cases for searching content across docs napkin

Use cases for searching content across docs

Following are the various methods I use to achieve the search, indexing, and exporting search results for further action.

Method1

The simplest possible method is to dump all the files in a parent folder and run full text search from Windows explorer on the parent folder. Things to remember:

  • Entire content of plain text content like TXT, XML, and HTML files can be searched directly.
  • To enable indexing of various other file formats, install the corresponding iFilters. Get the download links from this Wikipedia entry.
  • On Windows 7, full text search is the default behavior. For Windows XP, to install Windows search 4.0, see this article. Some tips for advanced search are here.

Method2

If for some reason you cannot install/use indexing services on the OS, use a specific tool for searching. Like UltraFileSearch or WinGrep.

Method3

You need Adobe Acrobat and PDF documents to achieve this. This is my personal favorite as it gives a better user experience, is quite intuitive for anyone to follow, and fits well in the wider work flow. More details and video demonstration are in this post.

Method4

This is a subset of Method3 above. With free Adobe Reader you can run advanced search a folder full of PDF files. However, as the free Reader does not index PDF files, the search is slower.

See what works for you and let me know. Share you methods below.