It had been a couple weeks now I was trying to get four friends together to work on a project. One person said “How about Wednesday?” Two people responded, “Yes, that’s good for me”. Then the fourth responded, “No I can’t do that. How about Thursday?” That continued for a while until we agreed on a time. Then it started all over again when we had to agree on a location.
Everybody has to schedule a meeting at some point. Here are some basic tips and powerful technology to reduce frustration and time spent managing meetings.
“Do you want to meet?”
“Ok, how about Thursday at 10:00am?”
"No, that doesn't work."
"Ok, how about Friday at 1:00pm?"
What if there was a way to simplify that?
There is: when sending an invite, suggest a time in the same message asking about meeting and suggest at least two options. By providing a time up front, you’re skipping an extra exchange or two and by giving two options, you are potentially skipping more exchanges, since if the first option doesn’t work, the recipient may be available at the second time. So instead of the exchange above (6 messages), it could be as simple as just 2 messages:
“Do you want to meet? I'm open Thursday at 10:00am or Friday at 1:00pm.”
“Yes, let's book Friday at 1:00pm.”
Don't forget to also explain the purpose of the meeting, and what is expected from attendees. That way, they have an incentive to reply quickly.
Applications like Doodle, Calendly or Appointy use technology to make you more efficient. For example, if you need to pick a time for a large group of attendees, send them a Doodle link and let each attendee fill out their availability. You can then review to see which time slot works for the majority of attendees.
You can also connect your calendar into software like Calendly so that a person can see your availability and schedule a meeting directly at their convenience.
What if you didn’t have to schedule the meeting yourself at all?
Take a look at digital personal assistants like x.ai or Clara. If you’re discussing meeting with someone, you can CC Amy (from x.ai) or Clara on your email, and your virtual assistant will schedule a time and location using natural language. Amy of x.ai is free but still in “beta” so there is a waiting list (tip: you can jump ahead on the waiting list by promoting Amy on social media). Clara is a paid service and you can check out a free trial now.
Article written by Greg Kamprath, IMS Account Executive