Even in our email- and text-reliant world, people still make their best connections in face-to-face settings, whether in person or online. Whatever the nature of your work, no matter what type of business you have, you’ll always need to set and keep appointments. These may be one-on-ones, or focused group discussions, or even town hall gatherings, but business meetings will always be necessary. So, learning how to schedule appointments properly will always be helpful. Read on to learn how to make effective bookings!
How to Schedule Appointments: What Makes Them Stick?
Your booking’s goal is to secure a time slot for a meeting. Therefore, an effective booking is one that is clear, informative, and has all the information the attendees need. As much as possible, include all of these when setting a meeting:
- Date, day, and time of the proposed meeting
- The reason for holding the meeting
- A means to confirm, decline, or propose a new date
- Reminders/things to know beforehand
Bookings with detailed information makes a good impression on customers. Besides looking professional, it reduces missed appointments and cancellations. Of course, it’s not enough for people to know that they’ll be in a meeting—it’s also vital to let them know what it will be about.
Set the Meeting Agenda in Advance
Meetings tend to run smoothly when people are aware of the agenda beforehand. People can also plan their days better when they have a rough idea of how long meetings will run. Though you never know how conversations during meetings will run, having an agreed upon agenda ensures that you’ll have a guide back to your appointment’s purpose when things go off on a tangent.
Give Attendees Options for the Date & Time
Instead of going back and forth with everyone who will be present about the date and time of the meeting, pick 2 or more blocks of time that are free on your calendar and present these to the other attendees. The larger the group, the more likely scheduling conflicts will be. So, having a lot of options is a better way to get a consensus.
When2Meet is a handy online tool for finding a schedule for large groups. It lets you see, at a glance, which parties are available at which hours, and how many people can attend at any given day.
How to Schedule Appointments that Stick? Always Confirm
Confirming appointments with attendees shows that you care about their presence at the meeting. Use an appointment reminder system to improve the amount of kept appointments—it’s inconvenient to deal with no-shows, especially if you’ve gone to great lengths to find a schedule that works for everyone attending.
When you’re the person invited to a meeting, don’t wait for the organizer to check with you—confirm your attendance and request for additional information if needed (e.g. agenda, directions to the meeting place, what to bring).
If you’re scheduling through Google Workspace’s Calendar or similar software, you’ll have the option to send an email invitation that lets people confirm their attendance ahead of time.
How to Schedule Appointments: Things to Ask About Meetings
Often, appointments scheduled at work are meetings involving 2 or more people. So, it can be challenging to get everyone to agree to a time. There’s also the matter of ensuring everyone knows the agenda of the meeting and is give adequate time to prepare for it. Here are some crucial questions to ask when you’re learning how to schedule appointments.
Can This Meeting Be an Email?
It’s become a meme at this point, but many people schedule meetings when they really shouldn’t. For example, when you have to hand over a document for approval, there’s really no need to meet up with relevant parties. Unless the document is short enough that you can thoroughly peruse it in under 10 minutes, it’s better to drop it off and inform the other person that you’ll make yourself available to answer questions about it.
Is Everyone Attending Required to be There?
If the meeting is unavoidable, keep in mind that you don’t need to invite the entire company to it. Decide the core group who must be there, and send out a mass email for people whose attendance is optional, like company higher ups. Having a small list of attendees ensures that the meeting stays on track and doesn’t disrupt a lot of people’s schedules.
Is it Easy for People to Attend?
A lot of people hesitate to attend meetings, especially in-person ones, because they take up so much time. It takes several minutes to get yourself ready to go out, actually travel to a meeting venue, and get settled and ready to discuss the agenda. Minimize the friction of making it to a meeting by ensuring that everyone is close to the venue, or by opting for video or telephone conferencing at a time convenient for everybody.
Is There Time for Prepping and Debriefing?
Set aside time in your schedule for preparations–if there’s a report to review, or a video to watch, get that done beforehand. When the meeting organizer provides the agenda, it’ll be easier for everyone to prepare, which leads to more insightful conversations.
Debriefing and following up on tasks is equally important. After the meeting, see to it that the relevant parties complete any further action arising from the meeting’s discussion.
When Should You Have a Meeting?
Although a lot of meetings could be emails instead, there are some updates that you can’t leave in a thread. Here are instances when a meeting is necessary:
There is a set agenda
Having a plan for a meeting doesn’t an agenda make. Ideally, your agenda should cover items that require people to synchronously communicate. For example, if people need to discuss a strategy, request others’ assistance on a project, or decide on milestones, then it is a good time to have a meeting.
You could also build asynchronous updates into your meetings, which prevents meetings from running too long. Each person on your team can have 2 to 3 minutes to let people know what they’ve achieved since the last meeting, and what they plan to work on until the next one. This keeps your meetings outcome-oriented, which lessens the amount of wheel-spinning that occurs.
You’re meeting to build rapport
When you’re a fully remote team, chances are, you don’t see your co-workers in person very often. That’s okay, but you probably also know that working remotely can get lonely. When learning how to schedule appointments for a remote team, keep in mind that you need to make space in your calendar for meetings that build camaraderie.
Having non-work-related online gatherings is more important for remote workers. It is because they don’t have as many opportunities to hang out and get to know each other as in-office workers. Scheduling team building opportunities, even online, will help your team gel and understand each other more.
You want to decide a matter quickly
Another instance when it’s important to schedule a meeting is when you have to make a crucial decision and need several people to weigh in on it. For urgent meetings like these, clarify with those invited that you’re only discussing the matter at hand. Emphasizing this will ensure that people can get back to their day’s tasks as soon as possible.
How to Schedule Appointments: Tips for Keeping an Organized Calendar
Another thing to keep in mind is organization. You’re not just going to schedule one meeting—you’ll likely have to juggle multiple commitments to different teams, or even to people outside your company. Here are things that could help prevent your calendar from becoming too chaotic.
Be Intentional About Scheduling
In a bid for efficiency, a lot of people load all of their appointments in one day. The biggest problem here is that things often take longer than we expect them to. If just one of the appointments goes overtime, the rest of the schedule gets affected.
Besides, scheduling work appointments and personal errands require a lot of context-switching, which makes it hard to be present in the appointments. If possible, schedule your personal appointments and your work meetings on different days.
Keep Schedules Updated
Using shared calendars like Google Calendar lets you keep others in the loop about your schedule. For some people, a manager, an administrative assistant, or a significant other makes changes on their calendar for them. Keeping a synchronized calendar allows everyone involved to see potential scheduling conflicts and avoid them.
Use 12:00 NN as the Baseline
A handy trick for keeping your meetings evenly spaced throughout your workday is by using noon as your baseline. As much as possible, schedule morning appointments from noon, going backwards, and schedule afternoon meetings from noon forwards. So, the first person to book an AM meeting will get 11:00-12:00, the first one to book a PM meeting gets 1:00-2:00, and so on. This keeps gaps between meeting times smaller, which makes you more productive.
Offload Your Scheduling
Finally, allow people to set meetings with you through appointment scheduling software like Calendly. The average phone call to book a meeting takes approximately 8 minutes–if you have a lot of people to meet, that could eat up most of your workday. Setting up a Calendly means you don’t have to worry about going through the back and forth of finding the perfect time.
No Need to Train a Wing VA on How to Schedule Appointments
Booking meetings or organizing your schedule can take up too much of your time. When you’re a business leader, this is not the most efficient use of your workday. Instead of handling all of this yourself, offload it to a virtual assistant. Having a VA take over busywork like scheduling lets you focus on your core tasks.
Learn all the different tedious tasks a Wing Assistant can handle for you and your team. Book a call with our sales representatives today!