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Tips and tricks for easily organising meetings

In this episode, we’re sharing some simple work hacks that we hope will save you time. We’ll share our ideas about easy ways to schedule meetings. In a previous episode we shared our Seven simple life hacks for enablers of change, so you might want to check that one out too!

Do you need to schedule one-off meetings, whether online, in-person or over the phone? As enablers of change we sometimes need to arrange a lot of one-on-one meetings with farmers or conduct phone interviews. As we’re sure you can appreciate, it’s often difficult and time consuming having to contact each person to schedule a mutually convenient time. So, how can we easily schedule meetings in bulk?

Recently John has been enjoying using an online scheduling platform called Calendly for organising phone interviews. He doesn’t receive commissions from Calendly, and there are probably similar products out there, but this one has worked well for him. Tools like this can significantly streamline the way we go about scheduling meetings, as they automate the scheduling process, reducing the back-and-forth communication often required to find a suitable time. This allows us to focus more on the purpose of the meeting, rather than the painful logistics of nailing a time that works!

These tools can integrate with various calendars (such as Google, Outlook, and Apple) and with online meeting platforms (like Zoom and Microsoft Teams). This means we can specify the time slots that we’re available, and the interviewee clicks the link we send them in an email, allowing them to select the time slot that best suits them. They can also change the appointment later on, if their schedule changes. 

This ensures that the online meeting links are automatically generated and shared. Or if we’re conducting a phone interview, the scheduling tool will prompt the interviewee for their best contact number. With these scheduling tools, time zone differences are automatically accounted for, making it easier to schedule meetings with participants in different regions without confusion. 

They allow us to customise our availability, set buffers between meetings, and limit the number of meetings per day. This flexibility helps us manage our time more effectively and avoids meeting fatigue. It can also send automated reminders and notifications to both parties, reducing the likelihood of missed appointments and ensuring everyone is well-prepared.

John recently conducted some phone interviews for a government agency whose privacy policy unfortunately meant he couldn’t use Calendly, as it stores the interviewee’s contact details in the US. Instead, John had to grit his teeth and send each person a text message telling them he was going to phone them (so they would hopefully answer his call). John then had to call them to set a time for the interview (which sometimes took several attempts to catch them), and then finally phone them again to conduct the interview. What a pain, but it made John realise how much he appreciated using online meeting schedulers, like Calendly.

Which then leads us on to our next tip… how to easily send multiple personalised SMS messages. We often send text messages as reminders before events (whether that be a workshop, webinar or phone interview), and also afterwards as a follow up. There are several benefits of sending SMS messages. Firstly, it serves as a reminder, helping to reduce no-shows by ensuring participants remember the scheduled time and date. This can be particularly useful for busy individuals who might overlook an email reminder or a calendar notification. Secondly, text reminders are typically more immediate and attention-grabbing than other forms of communication. Most people carry their phones with them these days and are likely to see a message soon after it arrives.

In this day and age of scammers and telemarketers, many of us don’t answer unknown numbers. That’s why John sent a text message prior to trying to call the people he needed to contact about teeing up a time for a phone interview. Text messages can also provide essential information or instructions. For example, in the context of a phone interview, a reminder might include the interviewer’s name, the purpose of the interview, or any specific preparation tips. For events, it might include details about the venue, registration times, or any last-minute changes.

Using SMS messages also enhances the sense of professionalism and organisation. It can show that the organisers are considerate and proactive in ensuring everything runs smoothly, which can create a positive impression. Additionally, text reminders can be a useful way for gathering confirmations or responses. Participants can quickly reply to confirm their attendance or inform organisers of any changes in their availability, allowing for better planning and coordination.

When John needed to send several dozen text messages recently, he used an Australian company called Cellcast and found them easy to deal with. The messages looked as though they had come from his mobile phone number, which ensured the replies came back to his phone. John just uploaded a simple spreadsheet of all the numbers and names of the recipients, and the clever system personalised each message and sent them within seconds. Each message sent only cost a few cents, but saved John hours of laborious typing on his small phone screen. John loved it!

Our third and final tip relates to sending out-of-hours email messages. Sometimes we need to work outside of the usual business hours, but we don’t want the recipients to feel they need to do so as well, by responding to our messages late at night or over the weekend. So what’s a solution to this?

Well, you might be using this feature already, but just in case you’re not, most email programs allow you to compose a message and schedule its delivery for a later time. In both Outlook and Gmail, there’s a little dropdown arrow to the right of the send button, which allows us to select Schedule send. We can then choose the appropriate time and schedule its delivery. This is also handy if we want to send a follow-up message after an event, or send a reminder to complete a survey, and we’re worried we might forget to do it. Just schedule it in advance, and then we can relax. If we need to tweak the message before it’s sent, we can still do so. For example, if there was an extra resource we wanted to mention to the participants. When we’ve finished editing, we can either send it straight away or schedule it for later.

We hope these tips make your life a bit easier! But what about you, have you used these tools or something similar? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please share them in the comments below the blog post!

Thanks folks for joining us on this Enablers of change episode. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know when new episodes are available. And if you liked what you heard, please tell your friends so they too can join the conversation!

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Sarah Chaplin
Sarah Chaplin
11 days ago

Doodle Poll is free and an excellent tool for nominating a selection of meeting times so participants can let you know their availability over a range of options. It probably works best if your participants know that you’ll be using Doodle Poll and as there could be a risk they will ignore the email as spam.

Olivia Weatherburn
5 days ago

For those on teams and microsoft – Microsoft bookings has the same functionality.

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-US/microsoft-365/bookings/bookings-overview?view=o365-worldwide

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