In the era of remote work, setting appointments properly can reduce meeting time, improve efficiency, and boost communication across various departments within your company or with your clients and partners.
This applies to any meeting: one-on-one chats, job interviews, or large conference calls. It could also be a business-to-business appointment where officials from two or more companies meet. Here is a breakdown of things you should know about remote appointment-setting and the best strategies to use.
Time is everything in setting appointments.
How you plan your time determines if your appointments will be effectively addressed or not. It is important to note that different people operate at different times.
This means that you have to adjust your plans to match the person you want to have an appointment with. Each type of meeting has its own timing – meetings within the company sometimes have to be only in the morning, because that’s the only time when everyone is at the office, or a job interview meeting sometimes can be held only in the afternoon, when it doesn’t affect anyone’s work. Failure to take this into consideration will only render your appointment efforts useless.
Benefits of remote meetings: reduced travel time & flexibility
During the coronavirus pandemic, we all learned that we do not have to meet in person to fulfill our tasks effectively. Thanks to multiple tools like Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, or Zoom, we could meet and work together while being physically separate.
So firstly, before you decide to meet in person, think if that’s necessary. Such meetings can easily waste your time. It has been realized that most appointments consume a lot of time simply because of unnecessary travel. If you cut down on this time, your schedule stops being so packed. Remote meetings can save you a lot of time, money and help to preserve the planet by reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Thanks to remote meetings, the travel time disappears. It is also easier to schedule an appointment with other people, as their time schedules are not as tight as before.
Technology has already provided better avenues of addressing appointments without necessarily meeting in person. Video conferencing can be used to address extensive group appointments. Emails and audio calls can also be used for the same purpose. The main aim here is to avoid wasting a lot of time traveling from one location to another in the name of honoring your appointments.
Choose the Right Software for setting appointments
Technology has a tremendous influence in helping people schedule appointments. Today, it is possible to plan all your meetings with the help of modern software. However, it should be understood that not all software in the market can work ideally in scheduling appointments. Some of them are just fancy and unreliable. If you cannot get reliable appointment setting software, it would be best to do things manually. There are cases where some software brands end up disappointing their users.
Online meeting software:
MS Teams – An excellent software with many built-in features, but mainly for big companies and organizations. It works both in-app and in the browser.
Zoom – a popular app for holding meetings online. It has features like reacting by emojis, sharing screens, creating breakout rooms, etc. The free version lets you hold meetings up to 45 min long.
Google Meet – Google’s online tool enabling people to connect through video calls. The consumer version only has the basic features like screen sharing, chat, etc., but in a corporate setting, it enables you to create polls, breakout rooms, and much more. Lately, they have launched an app for desktops so that you can use it through a browser or an app now. That’s the tool that we are using. We personally really enjoy it and recommend it to everyone!
Tools for setting appointments:
Calendly is an app perfect for setting appointments without much input on your side. You simply set different kinds of meetings, set when you are free, and let people choose in the app when they want to meet with you. The app automatically adds the meeting to your calendar, so you simply click on the correct link and start your meeting! In our opinion, this app is perfect for setting personal meetings or small team meetings.
Doodle is another free app perfect for setting meetings. You choose dates and times from which people can choose when it fits them. You receive notifications when people decide on the dates they like. even though it’s a tool suitable for big groups, it could get messy, when you have to check whether everyone has picked a time.
We also have some tools that are just perfect for collaborating during remote meetings and simulate face to face meetings:
Our favorite tools for online meetings:
- Google docs – it’s a remarkable free tool that makes collaboration much more manageable. If somehow you don’t know it, then it is an online version of Word, enabling multiple users to work on a document at once
- Google Jamboard – an online whiteboard, enabling you and your teammates to create it simultaneously. You can work on multiple projects in the same jamboard at once. It allows you to work just like on a real whiteboard, draw, write, put on sticky notes, and much more!
- Miro – It’s a complex online tool with many pre-prepared templates helping you build mind maps, calendars, flowcharts, customer journey maps, and much more. You don’t have to use the templates, but it makes life a lot easier. In the free version, you can create and collaborate on up to 3 boards, so try it for yourself.
- Whimsical – Miro’s younger brother. It works similar to Miro but focuses on creating five specific formats – flowcharts, wireframes, mind maps, sticky totes, and documents.
Define your agenda in advance
Agenda planning is considered a very effective strategy in setting appointments since it helps in saving time. You should always estimate how much time your meeting will take and stick to it. Agenda planning helps you go through the necessary steps one after another without distractions.
When you’re more focused on one task, you are much more productive! Try not to talk about tasks that are not included in the schedule. You can do that afterward if you still have some spare time in the end. You can also save it for other tasks.
A few tips on how to stick to your agenda:
- Always start on time and end on time. Don’t procrastinate, or later on you will have to rush through your work, and we all know that the effects of working in a hurry are not that good.
- Each meeting should end with a task list or action plan. Sacrifice at least a few last minutes of your session to set your next steps. Probably this action plan will be your future agenda for the next meeting.
- Clarify what the goal of the meeting is. When everyone knows the final destination, the road is more straightforward, so tell everyone what you expect of them. If you have met to brainstorm, create a strategy, or discuss an action plan – tell everyone.
- Have someone to control the meeting. It can even be someone who will not actively take part in the discussion, and will only be its moderator. It’s a great way to make sure that you stay on the right track during the meeting.
- Don’t interrupt each other. Interrupting is not only rude but also makes it harder to focus and paves the way to digression.
Set appointment options
The worst thing you can do is to schedule appointments at random. If you are running your company, it is essential to create appointment options for clients. In other words, you should set aside one or two days in a week whereby any client can book appointments with you. Doing so will spare your clients the hustle of moving back and forth without meeting you. It is also an ideal way of tuning your daily activities and ensuring that everything goes as planned.
When you set up a meeting, ask the other side how much time they need for the meeting. Maybe they have something more to discuss that they haven’t told you yet. In this case, you need to be sure about the time to not extend the meeting and disrupt your schedule.
If you are operating a large company, it might not be possible to address all invitees and still handle your other activities. It is for this reason that limiting your invitees is greatly recommended. If your schedule allows you to handle only four appointments, you should not exceed that limit. That way, you will be in a position to handle all your responsibilities conveniently and flawlessly.
Another way is also to delegate your meetings to the most trustworthy employees. Sometimes they can manage it just as well as you would.
Confirm appointment details
It is essential to be informed of what you will handle in your scheduled appointments before that time comes. Be sure to confirm where your appointment will take place, the date, and also the time. Doing so will allow you not to miss any of your appointments.
Confirm with your invitee to make sure that you won’t lose time traveling to the meeting place if it turns out they have to reschedule.
Remember that every participant should have the agenda in advance, so if there’s anything that they would have to prepare for the meeting, they would have time for that. The sooner, the better.
Try out various meeting types to find what works for you
Different ways of conducting meetings can help you and your team improve efficiency and achieve goals more quickly. Here are some examples.
3 amigos meeting
It’s a meeting conducted by three people: Business Analyst (BA), Tester (QA), and developer. It can turn into 4 amigos meeting when either a UX designer joins, or a client. A BA conducts the whole meeting. Thanks to this meeting the whole team understands the project better. It also ensures better quality of work by identifying knowledge gaps at an early stage. Thanks to that all the blockers, barriers, misunderstanding and confusions can be eliminated before work begins. Sounds interesting? Learn how to use this style of meeting here!
Brown bag meeting
It’s an informal meeting held around lunchtime (usually), where participants bring their lunches (stereotypically in brown bags, hence the name). During those meetings, management informs the team about current happenings or invites a speaker or expert that holds a workshop. Brown bag meetings help to properly share information and can be great for both team building and efficiency. There are multiple types of those meetings. You can find more about them here.
According to research, meetings have drastically increased in length and frequency over the last 50 years and on average they now take almost 23 hours a week per person, when they started out at 10 hours a week in the 1960s. A stand-up meeting is a great way to fight this trend. Those meetings should be dynamic and concise. All of the participants should stand instead of sitting. It doesn’t only make the meeting shorter, but also people stay more focused and do not get bored so quickly. There’s much more to this method and you can learn about it here.