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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meetings - Finding the Right Time

One of the biggest challenges when arranging a meeting is finding a time that works for everyone. Typically you'll send emails back and forth to try and find a time that works for everyone. There's got to be a better way!

Google Calendar

Let's start with the basics. If you're sharing your Google Calendar with another Google Calendar user, you can do a suggested search. However, most of us are often trying to organize meetings with people who we don't share our calendars with. If you want, you can make your calendar available to the public (choosing whether your appointment details are visible or not) and let people subscribe to it. You can also embed your publicly available calendar on a web page or Google Site where anyone can see your availability.


This is a great feature when you want to post your baseball schedule or other activity to a web site. However, the one disadvantage of this method is when you click on an event, it will try to add it to your Google Calendar. If you don't have a Google account, it will prompt you to create one.

Doodle

Doodle (www.doodle.com) is a free web service that asks the question "Which time works best for you?". You start by selecting a number of dates and times for your attendees to choose from. You email a link to them and they select the ones that work best for them. As they make their choices, you can see which date/time is the most popular. When you've chosen your date/time, Doodle can send an email  to the group letting them know or you can add the date to your Google calendar or a Google+ Events page.


Advance feature: if you login with your Google account, you'll be able to see your own schedule when choosing dates (ensures you won't be double booking yourself) and you'll be able to directly add the chosen date as an appointment to your calendar. You'll also be able to look back on any of the polls you've created.



YouCanBook.Me

A great replacement for Google Calendar's Appointment Slots, YouCanBook.Me is a free web service ideal for those who want to schedule certain times for visitors to choose from to book an appointment. Unlike Appointment Slots (which is only available to Google Apps for Education/Business), you don't need to have a Google account.

Logging in with your Google account allows the service to see your Google Calendar. You then select the days/times people can schedule appointments with you. Once you're done, you can either point them to a page created by YouCanBook.Me or you can embed it on your own site. As appointments are booked, they are greyed out.



There are lots of features that come with the basic free version of YouCanBook.Me - you can schedule lunch breaks, set a specific date range to be available (so you don't book during your holidays), customize the form, confirmation message/email, logos, etc.


Upgrading to a paid version allows you to have payments processed through PayPal, send followup emails/sms, remove YouCanBook.Me branding and more.

Look at their demo page and discover some exciting ways you can use the service!