Is it difficult to coordinate meetings?

By May.18, 2010

Sometimes it is rather difficult to agree on a meeting day and time with a group of people. It can even even more complicated if you have to do it via email. You send an email to all those involved in a project suggesting a day and time, and then you get a bunch of individual responses saying they can make it or not. Quite often there is always someone who can’t make it at the same time. So usually, you end up sending another round of emails and you get another round of replies with different answers.  And the problem is not just the time you spend sending emails and waiting for individual replies …but rather the fact that you have to manage all that information that by now, is all scattered in you inbox, because meanwhile you have received other emails on different matters. As the coordinator of the meeting  you have to scan through all the replies and try to identify a meeting day time that suits the majority.

I personally don’t like to have my inbox piled up with loads of emails about such topics. There’s much better ways of doing this. It’s called meet-o-matic and it allows you to suggest possible meeting days/times to people you want to invite for a meeting by sending a single email message (without needing of an email reply).

meetomatic

Meet-o-matic - Meeting Scheduler

How does it work?

You create a meeting, by providing the name of the meeting, your email, and suggested days and times.
Email the link that meet-o-matic sends you to the people you want to invite to your meeting.
Each member will be able to indicate their available time/day for the meeting by clicking on the link provided and checking the times/days most suitable for them.
They can also leave a comment regarding their attendance (eg., I will be 15 minutes late, etc)

This tool will also email you a link to the answers page, where you will be able to monitor the responses.

Hence, all responses will be available to you on a single webpage. It will be quite easy to identify who answered and when people are available to meet, as meet-o-matic will display that information for you. And all of this without sending emails back and forth to try to schedule a simple meeting.

Another similar tool I often also use is doodle. It does practically the same thing. I find it quite useful to coordinate meetings online now.

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And what about different timezones?

Another problem I often face is timezones! It is always very confusing to coordinate meetings with people in different countries/timezones. Those meetings are, of course, done online. I usually use skype, or elluminate for that, but my problem is always the same: trying to guess what time I need to be in front of the computer to meet someone from the other side of the globe.

How many hours ahead of NYC are we? What’s the time difference between London and Sydney? I hardly ever get it right! So I use The world Clock (especially the (Fixed) Past or Future Time option). It does make my life so much easier in many ways. Not only do I know what time I am supposed to start that meeting, I’m also able to advise my colleagues about the accurate meeting time (in their own time zones!).

So here is how it works:

Go to The Fixed Time World Clock – setup, select the day and time of your meeting in a given timezone and click ‘Calculate Fixed time‘. This will inform you what time the meeting will take place in different countries/cities around the world. Send this link to the people taking part in the meeting and they will be able to know exactly what time they are supposed to meet.

For instances, I have arranged a meeting for today (Tuesday, May 18th) at 7pm London Time. World Clock tells me that in NYC it will 2pm (Tuesday, May 18th) and in Sydney it will be 4am (Wednesday, May 19th). The latter might now make it after all!!

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