Scheduling a meeting

Scheduling a meeting by email

When proposing a meeting, give your availability and preferences. If you don't, you will just require an extra round of email to schedule the meeting.

You might show your availability by publishing your calendar (say, your Google Calendar if you use that). Otherwise, you will need to write a little program to collect your availability from your calendar (I use ICalAvailable), or type in your availability.

Never issue a “schedule ultimatum”, which is when you offer exactly one time. Even if a slot seems to be available on someone else's calendar, it may be inconvenient for them. If it does not abut other appointments, it might unnecessarily break up their schedule by creating too many small slots that are not useful for either meetings or getting work done. It might be the subject of negotiations with someone else for a meeting. If you issue a schedule ultimatum, it sends a (hopefully unintentional) message that your convenience is more important than anyone else's and that you are not willing to meet except at that one time.

Scheduling a group meeting using a tool such as Doodle

Even if your meeting will be 1 hour long, make the survey offer 30-minute slots. That way, you have the ability to set a meeting from (say) 1:00 to 2:00 or from 1:30 to 2:30. Don't make the survey 1-hour slots, every 30 minutes; that makes the survey cluttered and confusing to fill out.

Always use a tool that offers three choices: Yes, No, or If-Need-Be. This gives more opportunities for scheduling, and it avoids penalizing people who would generously say “Yes” to a slot that actually requires some effort on their part to reschedule.


Back to Advice compiled by Michael Ernst.

Michael Ernst