Have you ever thought about how you and your assistant set up meetings, or do you just wing it?
I’ve talked to several executives, pastors, and business owners who don’t have a system. They just pick a random time that works and put it on the calendar – assuming they keep a calendar.
Some of you may like that system – or lack thereof. You like being available for people. So why should you bother with a system for scheduling meetings? Because you need more time to focus on what you love. Because you need more energy to be fully present during your meetings.
In my several years of experience as an executive assistant, I’ve come up with three tricks to a good system for setting up meetings that allow you to be efficient, helpful to others, and ultimately take control of your calendar.
So let’s get to it. Here are three tricks to help you and your assistant schedule meetings more easily.
Trick #1 – Add Meeting Blocks to Your Calendar
I talk about an “Ideal Week Calendar” here. It’s a simple concept, but I think every executive, pastor, business owner, or leader of any sort needs to know what their ideal week would look like.
One of the biggest benefits to creating and sticking with an ideal week calendar is you get to decide when you want to have meetings – and when you don’t. So before you move on to trick #2, take some time to determine recurring, weekly times on your calendar that you’ll reserve for meetings.
Fore more info, I wrote about the process of putting together an ideal week calendar here. You can also download my FREE ideal week template here to get started now!
Trick #2 – Never Schedule Meetings
A good assistant knows your schedule like the back of their hand, so always have your assistant schedule meetings. You should trust them to set up meetings quickly, and at times when you’re actually able to make the meeting. If you try to schedule one, you’re likely to double-book yourself or be tempted to book one at a time that does not align with your Ideal Week Calendar.
If someone contacts you directly asking for a meeting, simply reply to them, copy your assistant, and say something like this:
Hi [Recipient’s Name],
I look forward to connecting.
+[Your Assistant’s Name] to schedule a phone call next week.
If the meeting isn’t urgent or you don’t want to meet with the person for a while, you could say “Copying my assistant to set up a meeting next month.” Simple notes like this do two things.
First, they set clear expectations for the recipient so they have a ballpark idea of when to expect a meeting.
Second, this gives your assistant clarification on what type of meeting you want with the other party – a phone call, in-person meeting, screen-share, Skype, etc. But it also tells your assistant how urgent the meeting is – next week, tomorrow, in a few weeks after things settle down, for example.
I love using this helpful “code” to save the trouble of having to clarify at a later date, or additional email.
To recap, do everyone a favor and let your assistant schedule your meetings.
Trick #3 – Don’t Ask the Other Person to Send Options
When your assistant makes first contact with someone to set up a meeting, they should include a list of 3-5 dates and times that work for you. Of course, your assistant should easily be able to find these open slots since you’ve already added them to your ideal week calendar (ahem).
Your assistant should also suggest a location in that same initial email. On this note, you should give your assistant a short list of places you like to meet people for coffee, for lunch, for happy hour, for nice dinners, for breakfasts, etc. That way they schedule meetings at places you like, in parts of town you want to drive to.
Here’s an example:
Hi [Recipient’s Name],
[Your Name] is available to meet at one of the following times:
Mon, Oct 11, 10:00am
Tue, Oct 12, 9:00am or 3:00pm
Tue, Oct 19, 8:30am or 11:30am (Lunch)
Please let me know if any of the above times work for you, or feel free to suggest other times. [Your Name] can meet you at the Starbucks on Main Street, if that is convenient for you.
Why should your assistant take charge like this? Shouldn’t they ask the other person what works for them? Isn’t this a bit selfish of you? Well, it depends on how you look at it. I would call it self-care, which is different than selfish.
Mutually Beneficial Scheduling
There’s the obvious reason you want your assistant to take initiative – you have predetermined slots during each week that work best for you to have meetings. Times when you’re energized and excited to meet with people, which makes the meeting more pleasant for all involved.
But there’s another reason to be so bold, and most people miss this. When the other party receives an email with dates/times and a location already suggested, all they have to do is glance at their calendar to see which works, hit reply and say “Oct 19 at 8:30am at Starbucks is perfect, thanks.” This scenario keeps the email thread to no more than 2-4 emails.
On the other hand, if your assistant sends an email without dates or a location, the other party is forced to do all the work. They have to look at their calendar and come up with a few options that work for them.
Next, they have to figure out a good location to meet – often without knowing where you like to have meetings.
Finally, they’ll send an email back with options, which you’re hoping fit into your ideal meeting blocks. Then your assistant will have to reply with the option that works, if any of them do.
In this scenario, everyone will end up with at least 2 extra emails in the thread, or worse – you may end up with a meeting at a time outside of your ideal meeting blocks.
So save the other person some time and energy by having your assistant do the work in the first email, and save yourself time and energy by maintaining control of your calendar.
How Do You Schedule Meetings?
Well, those are a few of my tricks. I hope they’re helpful! How about you? What tricks do you or your assistant have up your sleeves to help others schedule meetings more efficiently and seamlessly? Please share your tips in the comments below!
If you’re an executive or assistant who would like hands on coaching to help you gain more time, energy, and success, reach out to me for one-on-one coaching. I’d love to help!