How to enable and use audience targeting for SharePoint pages and news

anonymous person with binoculars looking through stacked books

Note: This article pertains specifically to SharePoint Online (M365).

Audience targeting can be used to surface relevant information and resources to specific groups of people throughout SharePoint. This post will focus specifically on enabling audience targeting on your site’s pages and news so that you can create individualized experiences for users based on their identity or role.

The overall process consists of three steps:

  1. Enable the audience targeting ability for all content in your Site Pages library.
  2. Specify the appropriate audience(s) for specific pages/news items within the library.
  3. Modify any existing web parts (news or highlighted content web parts) to enable audience targeting (simply meaning to utilize any audience targeting configurations that have been specified for the content surfacing in that web part).

Step 3 is not required if you only wish to have audience targeting “seen” on the SharePoint start page, mobile app, or other non-customized areas where news may surface.

How audience targeting works

If you specify an audience for content, it will be shown in relevant areas (SharePoint start page, mobile app, news or highlighted content web parts using audience targeting, etc.) to members of the audiences only. This is not a security feature – the content is still discoverable by other users – just not surfaced upfront conveniently for them.

If you are a member of an audience specified on a news piece, you’ll see that news wherever it’s being called up. If you’re not, you won’t see it but can still search or browse to find it.

If no audience is specified for an item, it will be shown to all users. Or if a web part (such as a news web part) has disabled audience targeting, any specified audiences on individual pieces will be disregarded and the content will be shown to all through that particular web part.

Here are the detailed steps to set up audience targeting:

Enable audience targeting for Site Pages (and news)

1. Go to your Site Contents > Site Pages library

2. Select the settings gear > Library settings

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3. Choose Audience targeting settings

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4. Check the box for Enable audience targeting and then click OK.

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Specify an audience for SharePoint pages or news

1. Now return to your Site Pages library and select a page or news item to which you wish to add audience targeting.

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2. Open the details pane (i icon) in the upper right

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3. In the Properties section, enter up to 50 M365 Group names, user names or emails, etc. to whom the selected content should be targeted. Notice it also adds the specified audience in a column in the library. Your additions are saved automatically.

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Modify web parts to utilize audience targeting where available

1. Edit the page on which you’ve placed a news or highlighted content web part.

2. Click the edit icon (pencil) on the particular web part for which you’re enabling audience targeting.

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3. In the Filters section, toggle Enable audience targeting on.
(Note: News source must be This site or Select sites. Recommended for current user doesn’t have audience targeting settings).

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4. Republish your page when ready.

This can take some time to fully update in your site, so check back after a while to confirm functionality.

After completing these three sections, you’ve now

  • allowed content within the pages/news library to be used in audience targeting scenarios,
  • chosen specific pieces to which you’ll apply audience targeting,
  • and modified the web parts where content will surface to utilize those pieces’ audience settings when appropriate.

Check out this article for more information on SharePoint audience targeting, including more than pages and news.

How to export OneNote to PDF while preserving clickable hyperlinks

person holding apple magic mouse

It’s not often I need to “print” OneNote. However, today I had a section I wanted to convert to a PDF document and printing is the way to go in OneNote for Windows 10 (the version that comes pre-installed on Windows 10 machines). I found, however, that the file created through this method didn’t maintain its links (links weren’t clickable in PDF).

After trying Adobe, SnagIt, and Microsoft PDF print abilities to no avail (using both OneNote versions – Windows 10 and desktop/2016), I found success using OneNote (desktop) > File > Export > PDF. Detailed instructions are at the bottom of this post.

Learn more about the difference between the two OneNote versions here.

Thankfully, OneNote (desktop aka 2016) allows us to “Export” notebooks, sections, or pages to PDF. We can print to PDF as well, but using “Export” specifically is the key here to maintain the clickable links. OneNote for Windows 10 doesn’t currently have a similar export ability.

If you don’t have OneNote (aka 2016) already installed, you can still download it here. Once you have it, proceed with the following steps to export your OneNote notebook, section, or page to PDF with clickable hyperlinks:

1. To open a new notebook, select File > Open. You may need to switch account if not seeing your cloud notebooks right away.

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2. Once your notebook is opened and you’ve opened the specific content you wish to print, click File (upper left).

3. Choose Export > Content Scope (page/section/notebook) > PDF > Export as shown in the following screenshot.

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4. Choose a location and filename, then click Save.

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Now check the resulting PDF and you’ll find your OneNote notebook content with clickable hyperlinks in tact.

Bonus tip: One small thing to note is that OneNote for Windows 10 has a nice feature where you can print a section group. OneNote (desktop) does not – it’s only exportable by page, section, or the entire Notebook. So if you don’t need clickable links in the resulting PDF, you may wish to choose OneNote for Windows 10 for your “Print to PDF” needs to simplify printing several sections at once from the same section group.

How to schedule a Microsoft Teams webinar

Previously we could schedule Teams meetings and Teams live events. Now there’s a new, third option called webinars for those “in-between” needs. It is currently rolling out (May 2021) so you may not see this option right away but check back soon.

Webinars enable up to 1,000 participants, but also come with some great features like custom registration pages with email confirmation to registrants, attendee reporting (in line with what we’re seeing in meetings and live events), and polls, chat, and reactions (as we have in meetings). We’ll also be better able to manage attendee audio/video as hosts of webinars.

Webinars can extend beyond 1,000 participants, though anyone beyond 1,000 will be view-only (non-interactive).

To schedule a webinar in Microsoft Teams webinar, follow these steps:

Scheduling a webinar in Microsoft Teams

1. Go to the Calendar via the Microsoft Teams client left-hand nav

The Calendar option in the left-hand navigation menu of Microsoft Teams.

2. Choose the dropdown arrow next to New Meeting in the upper right-hand corner and choose Webinar.

The new (May 2021) Webinar feature when scheduling Teams events.

3. Choose the dropdown arrow next to require registration to choose who should be required to register for the webinar in order to attend. You can choose None, For people in your org and guests, or For everyone.

Note: If For everyone is grayed out for you, your administrators will need to allow you to require it outside your organization via policy. See this documentation for more info. While currently PowerShell, we can expect to see UI settings added to the Teams Admin Center eventually as with other features.

The require registration option on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

4. Select View registration form to configure the registration form attendees will complete.

The View registration form link on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

5. Configure all of the details for the registration form, including any additional fields you want to add or speaker information.

Click to enlarge – Custom registration form configuration screen.

6. Click Save when finished customizing. You’ll see a preview of what your attendees will see and can copy the registration link from the top ribbon. When finished previewing, click the X in the upper-right hand corner to close the pop-up.

Click to enlarge – A custom registration form preview in Microsoft Teams when creating a webinar.

7. Complete the invite details for your presenters (matching the details you placed on the registration form, of course). Click Send when ready.

That’s it! Just be sure to only share the Registration link (open event from calendar and click Copy registration link) for your attendees and NOT the “Click here to join the meeting” link.

Click to enlarge – Share the “registration link” with attendees, not the “Join” or “Click here to join the meeting” links.

You can download current registration any time by re-opening the event from your calendar and selecting the registration file icon shown below.

Click to enlarge – Webinar details after creation.

How to add a Version column to modern SharePoint list and library views

Versioning is enabled by default on all modern lists and libraries in Microsoft 365 and saves the last 500 major versions of an item/document . However, you won’t see a column displaying an item’s/document’s version number automatically in list/library views unless you explicitly add it.

Normally in modern lists and libraries you could show/hide columns that already exist by selecting the column header titled “+ Add column” then “Show/hide columns” as seen in the screenshot below.

However, when we do this, Version isn’t an option.

Solution #1: Edit the current view

We visit some classic SharePoint settings to find this column. Simply follow the steps below to add the “Version” column to your list or library view.

1. Go to the list or library and make sure it’s on the view to which you’re adding a column for Version

2. Select the view name (All Items or All Documents is default) then Edit current view

3. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of column names and select the checkbox next to Version.

4. Click OK at the top or bottom of the screen to save.

Note: If you want to rearrange the order of columns as well (perhaps placing Version between other columns) then be sure to change its corresponding number next to its row in the view settings as well.

Solution #2: Edit the view through List/Library settings

Rather than using Edit current view from the view itself, you can also get to the same view settings by going to Settings > List Settings or Settings > Library Settings.

Scroll down to the Views section and select the name of the view for which you’re adding the Version column then proceed with steps 3 and 4 from Solution #1.

And through either method, now we have a column for Version added to our view.

Reflecting on my first 6 months working at Centriq Training

Today I celebrate having been a Microsoft 365 Training Specialist at Centriq Training in Kansas City, Missouri for exactly 6 months. That may not seem like much to some, but it’s euphoric for me.

My previous two positions (and workplaces) before Centriq were not great fits for me and I stayed in each for less than a year. At each, I remember trying to push and mold the role and environment into something that would fit better. This strategy served me well in the past, but these positions and their individual contexts were proving inflexible in the way I needed them to be in order to feel well-utilized and happy.

The search continued.

Interviewing for Centriq

I applied for a role at Centriq last year when I saw it open on LinkedIn. I knew the name Centriq as a local powerhouse of corporate IT training and career skilling programs. I had only led training initiatives and occasional trainings in many of my previous roles but had never seriously considered doing it full time. But I knew I loved developing training content, helping people succeed in utilization of M365 tools, sharing knowledge, and ultimately building community near and far.

Centriq would be taking a gamble if they considered me. This Chamberlain guy just wrote a couple books, had a blog, spoke at some events, but wasn’t a “real trainer.” His history was all systems admin, business analysis, and consultant-ish. They could see I had two positions in the last year. Still, they called to arrange an interview.

My interview experience consisted of a phone screening, two separate one-on-one interviews, an “audition” training in a classroom of my would-be peers, and finally one-on-ones with those would-be peers afterwards. Each and every step of the way didn’t tax me at all – I already felt that I was speaking to “real” people who believed in the work they were doing. They weren’t interested in filling a vacancy – they wanted to build a team.

One of the most memorable things from the interviews is when Emma, now my Director, told me she built her own Power Automate flows and loved doing it.

I’m sure I did a double-take here. Did she say she enjoyed using a Microsoft 365 product and, moreso, chose to use it voluntarily because she realized the value it brought despite the work that went into learning and building in it?

I can’t tell you how often in the past co-workers (both peers and managers) would tell me tales of how and why they despise (or completely reject) the tech they “have to use” or manage. Often, this negativity was directed toward Microsoft 365 – the suite I managed, taught, became certified in, wrote books about, blogged about, and for which I became an MVP. And, in most cases, I’d venture to guess the negativity toward tech was actually more about change than the tech.

But this would be one of the first times in recent history my company wasn’t just using the bare minimum but excelling at using it regularly for real business processes…and enjoying it?

I was also excited to work with Craig, a fellow M365 trainer, who already during the interview was energized talking about engagement tools and classroom strategies.

I got to meet Mickie again, who I’d known outside of Centriq, who is our lead in the M365 space. She and Jessica, our VP of Operations, shared an enthusiasm for our direction as a team and company I found so very refreshing.

These seemingly small early interactions gave me a glimpse into the culture at Centriq and I wanted more. Positivity and joy are contagious.

Every single person, no matter their official role, cared about sharing knowledge, training, working hard, and making the most of Microsoft 365 apps and services. If you’ve gotten to meet any of our team, you’ll know firsthand that the enthusiasm and belief in what we do out in the community is palpable.

I was hired, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

Centriq’s culture

Now, reflecting at 6 months in, I have the good fortune of working with some of the kindest, most intelligent and creative professionals. Centriq has built a team across Kansas City and St. Louis that is made up of community advocates, innovative techies, amazing mentors, hard-working trainers, and inspiring leaders.

I haven’t felt that old “escape” urge to apply or look elsewhere. I know now from experience how hard it is to find a place and a role that uses your entire skillset regularly. But what really makes Centriq special is the people I work with daily. And, looking back, what I appreciated most about all of my previous roles was also the people with whom I built positive working relationships and friendships.

My first day was during my birthday week and Amy, our HR Manager, greeted me with homemade cookies, iced to perfection (see below). I’d later see that Amy had built her own stunning SharePoint site, Power Automate flows, and taught courses sometimes as well.

Birthday cookies from Amy’s Cookies.

As I adjusted to my new role, I expressed interest in pursuing my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) credential. My leadership team not only said “Absolutely” but “Absolutely, and we’d also like to support you in getting your CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) cert while you’re at it.”

When I needed a classroom of students to participate in my CTT+ cert’s recorded practical component, my co-workers (some of whom I had only just met that day) volunteered their entire day to help me and another trainer be successful in meeting our certification requirements.

When the annual MVP Summit came up this year, I was given time during the workday to attend as professional development.

During a few back-to-back weeks of strenuous training deliveries, Lea, one of our Directors, was checking on me regularly not just from the “how can I help” perspective, but as a human being just checking on the wellbeing of another.

Our marketing team arranges and executes amazing, free webinars for the public on M365 (and other) topics. This is just one of the myriad things they’re working on during any given day. I’m grateful to be asked to present several of these. I’ve always cared deeply about creating accessible learning opportunities and knowing we regularly provide free training opportunities to a global community warms my heart. We couldn’t be the voice and influence in the community we’ve come to be without our amazing Marketing team (looking at you, Alison, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Ted). Thanks to their efforts, you’ll find us on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

And there are a total of four of us on the M365 trainer team: Mickie, Craig, Julie, and myself. Mickie and I handle a lot of custom training requests, and get to work together on new content outlines and deliveries. Craig and I create videos for our Centriq eTraining portal so we get many chances to co-create amazing, polished content for our customers. Julie is always willing to sit on a professional development webinar with me to learn or, when I’m presenting, moderate chat. I’m proud to get to co-author with, co-teach with, or moderate occasionally for each of these fantastic trainers, learning from them their unique experiences along the way. We learn, grow, and create successes together, and that’s all I ever wanted in a team.

I am supported every day.

Overall, when I have ideas, they’re heard. When I have questions, they’re answered. When I have problems, my peers help me through them. When I have frustrations, we find solutions. When I need a friend, I have one. When I need a mentor, they’re everywhere. When I’m feeling imposter syndrome or stressed, my colleagues make me feel like a million bucks and that weight falls away.

These qualities in my co-workers are not mandated by job descriptions, taught in orientation, part of a checklist, etc. These people just ARE the amazing way they are – you can’t teach or buy that.

I haven’t felt alone since starting, even though 99% of my time is spent away from my co-workers interacting primarily remotely. We work together well and I am only successful because we build every success together as a team.

While a lot of this is specific to my experience, I also get to see these amazing colleagues support each other in the same ways. Centriq has fostered this culture of positivity, transparency, empathy, supporting one another, being inclusive and open-minded, celebrating every win, working hard, continually improving (individually and as a company), and so much more I’m still picking up on.

If you had told me a year ago that this sort of place existed, I would have asked you which fantasy novel you were reading.

Wrapping up

I can easily get emotional when I reflect on where I’m at today. I was not in a good place emotionally or mentally in 2020 (and I know I’m certainly not alone there). I allowed my former co-workers and social media (and my self-talk eventually) to tell me a tale of the world that convinced me I didn’t belong and would never be safe or happy again. I was a cog in an outdated machine. I started to believe that I deserved to be unhappy, that I’d hit a wall in my career, that karma was collecting extortionist rent, and that this world ultimately wasn’t for me despite my efforts to belong.

I was wrong.

I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I believed, despite the mountain of depression and anxiety resting on me more heavily each day, that things would get better. I believed hard work, perseverance, and bravery would all amount to something. I worked on my self-talk and reminded myself that not all roads are straight. Not all successful journeys are without pain, loss, or risk.

Today I don’t have to pretend to be someone else, or minimize my personality to make my co-workers more comfortable. I don’t have to bottle up my thoughts, ideas, or feelings because I know they’ll be respected, even if we were to disagree on something. I can be enthusiastic and nerdy about what I’m passionate about, and be accepted (if not encouraged to be even nerdier).

I can’t understate how amazing it is to feel seen and supported every single day. I went without that for so long, and some days the old me whispers that I’m unworthy of this joy and peace or that it won’t last. But, like former positions, I’m letting go of those thoughts and memories that are no longer serving me. I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, doing what makes me happy, alongside the best people around.

Are you searching for your next role?

If you find yourself looking for a role that’s better, just know that it’s out there. Know that it can take time, and may involve some frustrating detours on the route. Detours are just learning experiences in the journey. And time is an excellent space in which to keep applying, developing skills, practicing talents, and improving your self-talk.

Also, stick to your values and protect your individuality. Don’t sacrifice your happiness, potential, or personality to run someone else’s machine that doesn’t serve you. You’ll find the job (or it’ll find you). It’s out there.

And if you ever feel like talking about your journey, whether you’re overjoyed or dealing with a detour, you’ve got an ally (me) you can chat with anytime on LinkedIn or Twitter.

How to get a Microsoft Teams meeting attendance report

white graphing paper

Microsoft Teams has three types of virtual meetings:

  • Meetings
  • Webinars
  • Live Events

Live events already had a nice attendance report (which I assume will be available for webinars as well), but traditional/regular meetings had yet to see a similar feature until now. You could always export attendance during the meeting, but it was a snapshot at that moment and you didn’t capture those who had left early or joined late depending on when you exported it. It also didn’t capture join/leave times.

Now meetings have attendance reports that you can get AFTER the meeting as well. Note that you must be the organizer, and your admin must have enabled this ability. See here for more info.

You can get these attendance reports in the meeting chat once the meeting ends (a report icon will appear) or simply follow these steps later to retroactively get the report from meeting details:

  1. Open the meeting/event in Teams to view Meeting Details
  2. Click the Attendance report icon to download the Excel file to your machine’s Downloads folder
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The resulting report will feature these details:

  • Total participants
  • Meeting start/end
  • Attendee name
  • Attendee join/leave times
  • Duration attended
  • Email
  • Role
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Aw, PIVOT! G-rated profanities and swear-alternatives inspired by Microsoft 365 apps

A while back, I shared some reactions one might see if NBC’s The Good Place deployed Microsoft 365. In the show, profanities are auto-filtered and replaced with something a little more G-rated. For example, “holy sh**” becomes “holy shirt!” So even though PG-13 profanities can’t be used, the characters can still get their emphatic points across.

In that spirit, I present some M365-inspired (but G-rated) profanities and swear alternatives to incorporate into your daily vernacular.

M365 appOffice-appropriate swear alternative
DelveMotherBOARD.
ExcelAw, PIVOT!
FormsSon of a BRANCH!
ListsFishTEMPLATES!
OneDriveUPLOAD yours!!
OneNote I don’t give an INK-TO-SHAPE.
OutlookWhat the FLAG?
PlannerSon of a BUCKET!
Power AppsDon’t be an APPhole.
Power AutomateFor FLOW’s sake!
Power BIBalderDASHBOARD!
PowerPointMORPH it.
SharePointHeavens to WEB PARTS!
StreamWhat in TRANSCRIPTION??
SwayGosh CARD it!
TeamsCheese and CHANNELS!
WhiteboardOh, SNAP.
WordHoly WORD WRAP.
YammerJumpin’ COMMUNITY!

What is Teams Pro? A look at the latest M365 service plan

Microsoft announced a Teams Pro service plan on Feb 9, 2021. This service plan will be rolled out for all customers with applicable SKUs (Office 365 E5/E3/A5/A3, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard/Business Premium licenses) at no additional cost. You can read the message center announcement in your admin center.

What features are included in Teams Pro?

Teams Pro will include a set of features that will enable “meeting intelligence” and webinar capabilities. While nothing has currently been officially announced, I speculate the new custom registration pages will be included in the Teams Pro feature set.

Admins will be able to turn Teams Pro functionality/capabilities on or off for users similar to how they currently can toggle any app/service product license assignment on/off for users.

How does Teams Pro change my current Teams licensing and M365 cost?

This new addition will not change existing licenses, and will not come at an additional cost to those with Office 365 E5/E3/A5/A3, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard/Business Premium licenses.

When is Teams Pro available?

Teams Pro will be showing up mid-March 2021.

New MS-700 exam guide (Managing Microsoft Teams) now available with 165 practice questions

I had the honor of co-writing Packt’s new MS-700 exam guide with fellow MVP and MCT Peter Rising. We cover the latest exam objectives released in over 400 pages that include plenty of screenshots and a total of 165 exam practice questions.

Successfully passing the MS-700 exam earns you the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate certification. This is an excellent way to prove skills and proficiency to employers (current and prospective) and also challenge yourself with keeping up-to-date on administering one of Microsoft 365’s core collaboration and communication apps.

We had an amazing team of technical reviewers and I want to thank Linus Cansby, Adam Deltinger, Amanda Sterner, and Mike Swantek for their invaluable time and input to help make this the best exam guide possible.

I also want to thank the many editors and staff at Packt who invited us to work on this project and helped us make it exceptional from beginning to end. It’s our success to celebrate together and I’m quite proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Custom registration pages coming to Microsoft Teams meetings in March 2021

crop ethnic psychologist writing on clipboard during session

Update 5/19/2021: This is now available for Microsoft Teams webinars.

You may have noticed a message in your M365 admin message center recently that announced registration pages will soon be available for Microsoft Teams meetings, beginning in early March 2021.

This announcement shared that “Microsoft Teams meeting organizers will be soon be able to create a custom registration page for any meeting, although the feature is designed for webinars.”

When can I create custom registration pages for Teams meetings and webinars?

The feature will apply to both desktop and web versions of Teams and may be seen rolling out to your tenants as early as March and as late as April.

What Teams meeting types can have custom registration pages?

Webinars are the ideal candidate for this feature but any normal Teams meeting will work. Recurring meetings and channel meetings, however, will not have this ability.

Who can create custom registration pages in Teams?

Anyone in your tenant will be able to create custom registration pages for their meetings by default.

Who can submit/complete custom registrations for my Teams meeting?

Your organization’s users are able to submit by default, but you can change this everyone (public) to host public webinars. Your admin will need to grant you the ability to create public registration forms, and once granted you can use it repeatedly until access is revoked.

Admins, see the required PowerShell commands for modifying registration permissions in the announcement.

How do custom registration forms work in Teams?

You create a custom registration form during the normal meeting scheduling process. Anyone you invite to the webinar/meeting will automatically receive the link to your form for registration. Others can use your link from social media posts, emails, blogs, etc.

Meeting organizers will have access to a downloadable registration report to track registration activity. This can be found on the “details” tab for the meeting at any time.