How to Schedule a Meeting

As an assistant, you’re often going to be called on to schedule meetings between many busy people. Heck, you’ll probably have to coordinate with these busy people’s assistants, but that just adds a layer of confusion.

For the longest time, I’d do this the old fashioned way– I’d call each person in turn, and ask if their schedule was free at this or that time. Some would know their schedule, some would have to call me back. Some would say “Whenever,” then I’d book a time, and they’d say, “Oh, not that time.”

This is the old fashioned way.

Then I discovered Doodle.com. It’s an amazingly simple, free tool. And I’m not being paid to say that; I just genuinely find it that useful.

All you have to do is punch in the times you might want to schedule the meeting (possibly determined by the availability of the conference room, or whenever the producer has a window of time). You send the link to everyone who needs to be at the meeting, and they just check off the times they’re free. The website will actually tell you the best time for everyone.

So, you’ve found the best time, and booked the conference room. Now, what? Email everyone the confirmation, of course!

It’s 2016, so we use email for that kind of thing. Here’s the important part: put the important information in the subject line.

PRODUCTION MEETING – FRIDAY, AUGUST 5, 10:00AM PST

Always include both the day and the date. At least one person thinks today is the 2nd, and one person believes it’s Thursday.  By including both, you increase the chances that the recipient will double check their calendar and show up on the right day.

The time zone is only necessary if you’ve got someone calling in on a conference call from another time zone. Remember, it’s always 10:00AM somewhere.

Lastly, God help you if you don’t know the difference between AM and PM.

I had this exact conversation with our show’s producer’s assistant last week–

INT. PRODUCTION OFFICE – DAY

The producer’s IDIOT ASSISTANT (20s, stocky and overconfident) strolls over to TAPA (20s, gorgeous and intelligent), sitting at her desk.

IDIOT ASSISTANT

The concept meeting moved. It’s now at eleven thirty in the afternoon.

TAPA

Wait, sorry, to be clear: when you say, “In the afternoon,” do you mean 11:30PM, just before midnight? Which is, I guess, after noon. Or do you mean 11:30AM, which is before noon?

IDIOT ASSISTANT

Technically, 11:30AM is in the afternoon.

TAPA

That’s... not how “technically” works.

IDIOT ASSISTANT

I know what “technically” means.

TAPA

Technically, you don’t.

That’s how easy it is to get meeting times screwed up.

On a side note, Doodle can also be used to schedule a series of one-on-one meetings, like if you’re interviewing job candidates. There’s an option labeled “limit the number of participants per option.” That way, there’s only one person per slot. This also works for casting auditions.

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