How to use Confluence like an Atlassian
One of the most effective ways to use Confluence – according to insiders – is "the Atlassian way." Just below Confluence's surface lie features that give collaboration superpowers, keeping teams connected and enabling healthier work life balance.
We interviewed eight Atlassians to learn about their work practices and uncovered secret tips from years of using and creating Confluence.
Use Confluence for collaboration, not just word processing
"Who loves email? No one." — Blane Barker, senior digital field marketing manager
For new users, Confluence pages may look like a familiar word processor, so they use it accordingly. However, Confluence is built for so much more. Atlassians recognize the extent of this missed opportunity. For instance, Confluence can reduce email communication by 30-50%. By utilizing tagging, commenting, and page sharing features in Confluence for collaborative duties, teams can reduce their reliance on email and other channels of communication. Ready to up the ante of your team’s collaboration with Confluence? We’ve got you covered with insider tips.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING TEAM COLLABORATION WITH CONFLUENCE
- Create a page that defines how you communicate as a team, specifying which channels to use for different types of interaction.
- Move chat and email communication to Confluence. Give feedback by grabbing the exact piece of text with an in-line comment – no more toggling between tabs as you search for bullet four on page two.
- Send even fewer messages by sharing pages with coworkers, ensuring they get notified automatically in Confluence when you make updates.
- Share an editing link rather than the published page link – editing mode allows you to see your collaborators’ work in real time. Simply click the + sign next to your profile picture when you’re in editing mode.
Move beyond the wiki and communicate content visually
"Experiment with all the ways in which you can make your content more visual." — Danielle Dannenberg, chief of staff
Visual aids have long been embraced to communicate information more effectively than words or text alone. Incorporating visual content has been shown to increase memory retention, lengthen attention span, reengage the brain, and increase comprehension, amongst other benefits. So, if you want to maximize the impact of your Confluence pages, the value of visuals can’t be understated.
Sadly, some people remain oblivious to the untapped potential of their Confluence pages, to the detriment of themselves and their teams. By utilizing the abundance of formatting features available in Confluence, you can make your pages not just more aesthetically pleasing, but more effective at communicating information, too. Familiarizing yourself with the basics of formatting features can be a game-changer in creating Confluence pages that pack a punch.
TIPS FOR VISUAL PRESENTATION AND LAYOUT IN CONFLUENCE
- Highlight important information on a page with Info, Tip, Note, and Warning Macros.
- Use Layouts to format your page for optimal visual impact. You can utilize a default layout or customize the number of columns and their widths according to your content and objectives.
- Infuse your pages with fun and add visual interest by incorporating images and emojis. Not only do these break up text and reengage readers, they can convey emotion and other nuances in a way text alone cannot.
- Nest collapsible elements in a page with Expand, which allows you to reveal or hide specific elements for different stakeholders. This way you can avoid sharing information that might not be relevant to every reader.
- Excerpt lets you display an element from one page on another page without duplicating the original in multiple places. It’s an essential feature for maintaining a single source of truth.
Keep stakeholders informed with fewer meetings
"Knowledge is nothing if people can't find it." — Kristen Forde, program manager recruiting
Without Confluence, it can be challenging to determine the best way to keep stakeholders informed. We’ve all been plagued by questions like “Who needs this update and how should I share it?” and its relatives “Who should be invited to this meeting?” and “Who should be CC’ed on this email?”. Many of us choose to err on the side of caution and overshoot – a time sink to those on the receiving end of seemingly endless inbound info.
Thankfully, Confluence can help you break the cycle of oversharing and prevent people from being taken hostage by an email’s CC field or yet another status update. With notifications, stakeholders stay informed about updates to Confluence pages, allowing them to keep tabs on a project’s movement and eliminating the need for meetings to share status updates, basic project info, and feedback. Better yet, each collaborator has the ability to watch and unwatch pages, ensuring they only receive notifications relevant to them.
TIPS FOR KEEPING TEAM MEMBERS INFORMED WITH CONFLUENCE
- Rather than inviting someone to a meeting, share a Confluence page with statuses. They're automatically notified when you make a change to the page and can choose when and if they wish to read an update. Blane Barker, senior digital field marketing manager, used this approach to keep "tons of stakeholders" up to date on planning for their annual event summit without endless meetings.
- While the ability to watch and unwatch pages and selectively read page updates is great at reducing over-communication, there are still some instances when you don’t want to inform everyone of an edit. The good news is, you can publish Confluence pages without notifying others - so people aren’t spammed with alerts for every typo you correct.
Make time for mastering top Confluence features
"Dig a little deeper on learning, how it works, how it operates." - BJ Schone, talent & org development lead
In the Atlassian way, Confluence is the virtual office. It's where Atlassians spend most of their working hours planning, thinking, designing, and collaborating.
When a tool is so central to your work, it pays off to invest time learning all its capabilities. While this costs some extra effort up front, it will pay off many times over in the future through saved time and energy.
TIPS ON HOW TO MASTER CONFLUENCE
- One resounding takeaway from Atlassians on mastering Confluence? The power of the slash command! On a Confluence page, hit the / key to open a dropdown menu with a plethora of possibilities. From the simple – adding in action items, emojis, and dates – to the advanced – embedding Trello boards, Dropbox files, and PowerPoint presentations – it can all be done with the slash. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the capabilities of the slash command and you'll save yourself hours in the future.
- Templates are another feature favored by Atlassians. Odds are there’s a match for your project in Confluence’s extensive template gallery, so starting from scratch should never be your default. Some Atlassian favorites: 90-day plan, employee handbook, retrospective, and the strategic plan.
- To improve the ROI of Confluence mastery, make it part of your company culture – everyone’s default destination for knowledge sharing. When searching for information, Atlassians always consult Confluence first. To implement this in your company, start by emphasizing Confluence during new hire onboarding. Additionally, have leadership serve as a model for the rest of the organization in their use of Confluence - the rest of the organization will adopt the same practices.
Six more life-saving Confluence tips
- Find all your tasks in one overview. Click on your profile picture in the top-right corner and select Tasks.
- Organize your pages with page trees. They make it easier to find what you're looking for, and you can structure pages in your tree using drag and drop.
- Duplicate a page and all its children. You can copy an entire tree of pages instead of duplicating them one by one. Select Copy from the More actions menu and then put a check to include child pages.
- Limit page access. Transparency is great, but sometimes you need to work on a page with a small group. Use the restrictions icon in the top-right corner of your page to limit access to key stakeholders.
- Include links with images. This is a simple feature but essential for many people, such as designers who want to link to source files or reference materials on Figma or Dropbox.
- Copy-paste from creative programs. Another great tip for designers: you can copy images, videos, and other content directly from creative programs like Photoshop into Confluence, eliminating the need for saving and then importing your files.
Collaborate the Atlassian way
Atlassians know the many features hiding below Confluence's surface that extend far beyond word processing. They use it to synthesize collaboration in one place and have a deep understanding of its capabilities and unmatched benefits. And while going deep might come naturally to the folks who build the tool, you should take a similar approach to any application central to your work life.
Ready to maximize your team’s potential with Confluence? Start collaborating the Atlassian way today
Thanks to BJ Schone, Blane Barker, Corey Scott, Danielle Dannenberg, Emily Castro, Jehan Gonsalkorale, Kristen Forde, and Miles Kaye for their insights.
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