Calendly: The Automatic Meeting Maker
Meetings don’t take a break, even during a pandemic. They simply look a little different now as most of your colleagues are likely utilizing video conferencing apps like Zoom more than ever before. Just as meetings don’t stop, the way you conduct your meetings hasn’t stopped.
Over the course of running your business, you’ve likely determined ways to make your meetings as effective as possible. You establish clear goals for the purpose of the meetings and stick to the originally proposed timeframe. At the end of the meetings, everyone leaves with clear-cut next steps and feels like they benefited from participating in the meeting. You know how valuable your time is and appreciate the value in time spent by the person or team you’re meeting with. Since you’ve taken such care in making your meetings impactful, why not devote the same effort to streamlining the scheduling process?
Too often, precious time is wasted in the back-and-forth email exchanges of suggesting dates and times (and alternate dates and times) for meeting with someone. I recently wrote a post on utilizing the scheduling tool Doodle to save time by sending a poll to members of the meeting so that everyone can weigh in on the best time that works for them. When someone wants to schedule a one-on-one meeting with me, I skip the poll option and instead use Calendly to allow a person to set up a meeting with me automatically.
Calendly is a meeting scheduling tool that syncs with your calendar. When a colleague asks to meet with you, simply send them a link to your Calendly schedule and they can choose a time that works for them.
Once the person follows your link, they can see what days you are available. When they click on a specific date, they can view a list of times. After clicking on their preferred time, they’ll be directed to a page to set up details about the meeting. As the user, you can specify what details you would like a person to provide prior to your meeting. I have the following details set up for individuals to fill out for scheduling a time using my Calendly account: first and last name, email address, phone number, type of meeting--phone call, online (Google Hangout) or in person--and specific discussion points/agenda for the meeting.
Once those details are filled in and the person clicks “Schedule event,” I’ll receive an email notifying me that a meeting has been set. That time will be scheduled on my Google calendar, the time will disappear as an option from Calendly so that others cannot schedule during that time, and a meeting invitation will automatically be sent to the individual who scheduled the meeting. I will also be notified via email if a person cancels a meeting or changes any details related to the meeting.
In the free version of Calendly, users can only set up one event type. However, in the paid version, users can choose from multiple event types--a 30-minute meeting, a 15-minute phone call or an hour-long lunch meeting, for example. When setting up the event type, you’ll be prompted to answer a couple questions: “What event is this?” and “When can people book this event?”
In the “What event is this?” field, you’ll briefly describe the event (Example--Meeting with *insert your name*) and location verbiage. For my location, I inserted a note that lets the individual booking the meeting know that the location will be updated later based on the type of event. (Of course, all of our meetings will be virtual for a while.) On this page you can also customize your Calendly link that you’ll share with individuals when they ask to set a meeting with you.
In the “When can people book this event?” field, you’re telling Calendly what type of meetings you want set up (event duration) and date range. I have my date range set to allow individuals to book meetings with me in the next 90 days. There are also options for the next 30 or 60 days.
Also in this field, you can customize timeframes of availability from which individuals can choose. You can add more than one interval as well. For example, if you want to allow yourself to have an hour of time for lunch each day, you might set two intervals, one for 9 a.m. to noon, and one for 1 to 5 p.m. Users have the option of applying that time frame on specific dates, or the time frame can be applied to certain days of the week. I like my Fridays to be completely uninterrupted so that I can wrap up items from the week and set a clear plan for the week ahead. Therefore, Fridays will not show up on my Calendly as an option for someone to meet with me.
Within this section you can also edit the questions you want invitees to fill in when booking the meeting. This takes all the grunt work out of the equation because I’m not going back and forth with someone to determine whether the meeting should be online, via phone or in person and other tedious details that add up to be time wasters. You can add as many questions as you want in this section, but my advice is to keep the task relatively simple for the person setting up the meeting. After all, their time is just as valuable as yours.
You don’t have to take into consideration meetings that you already have scheduled because Calendly syncs with your Google calendar to merge your availability into one space. This is especially helpful in special scheduling circumstances, like planned time out of the office. If I have a vacation planned and I mark it on my Google calendar, Calendly will automatically sync so that no one can schedule a meeting with me during the time that I’ll be away.
Setting up a Calendly account takes about 15 minutes and is just a one-time process. Consider how much time you’ll save in the long run by taking just those 15 minutes to eliminate hassle and headaches of emailing back and forth to suggest multiple dates and times with multiple colleagues and teams.
Here are six more ways in which Calendly may save you time and ease your scheduling stress:
- Calendly can be used for one-on-one meetings as well as team meetings. You can choose a round robin option to automatically distribute meetings to your team based on priority, you can allow the invitee to schedule a meeting with multiple team members at once, or you can host multiple invitees at an event for webinars, training, etc.
- The tool will automatically send confirmation and reminder emails to help you stay on track.
- Users have the option of adding in extra time before or after events to manage travel time or to build in time to prepare for the next meeting.
- You can put a cap on the number of meetings that can be booked in a day so that you’re not overbooked and overwhelmed.
- Calendly displays availability in your invitee’s time zone to eliminate confusion.
- In addition to standard meetings, the tool comes in especially handy when setting up interviews for potential hires. With automated scheduling and communication, you can schedule interviews quickly and stay focused on your responsibilities.