Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to Schedule A Meeting with Doodle

The Doodle scheduling tool allows you to put out a range of dates, or options, to a group of people and have each one express a preference. You can then view a summary of the results.

The first step, as you would expect, is to open your web browser and go to the website Doodle.

Click on the "Schedule event >>" button the the right of the page.

On this page you need to specify the title for your meeting (i.e. "To Agree A Time For A Local Meeting"). This needs to be meaningful so that when people see your email they actually want to respond - the tendency with emails is to "leave it till later" so it never gets done!

While "Description" is option (you don't need to specify one) you might get a higher response rate if you fill this in with as much detail about the meeting you're arranging as possible (i.e. draft agenda, decisions that you'd like to see made, etc).

If your meeting is going to be in a specific location you can click "Add address" and specify it;

The default location for the address is the US. Typing in "Cambridge" will give you "Cambridge, MA, USA". If you want to specify an address outside the US you need to specify the Country (i.e. UK).

You should then type in your name and email address (it's optional, but getting a message when each person responds usually helps with booking a meeting ... if the first 5 people to respond can't do any of your options then rather than waiting until everyone else has responded you might want to change them).

Once you've completed the form click "Next".

The next stage is to select dates for your meeting. You can select as many dates as you like by just clicking on the numbers. Clicking either of the blue arrows at the top will move the date along back/forward one month.

Once you've selected all the dates you're interested in (above I've selected from the 28th November to the 2nd December) click "Next" to move to the next phase.

The dates you entered on the previous screen are listed on the left of this page. You can then specify the times on each day for your meeting. You can on this screen have many options on each day, the initial display shows only 5 - if you need more than click "Add further time slots" to get another 5 (total 10), click it again to get another 5 (total 15) etc.

If the times you are interested in are the same for each day you just need to fill in the first line and then click on "Copy and paste first row" and all the other days will be filled in automatically based on the values you've specified for the first day.

Click "Next" once you're happy with the times.

It is generally best to select "you send the invitation" as it's a lot easier for various reasons not least of which is that people can be funny about sharing email addresses on websites - whatever the privacy policy of that website. Unless the people in your meeting have agreed to use Doodle (or used it previously) then I'd recommend sending the invitation yourself.

This final page shows you the URL's for your Doodle;

The participation link is the one you need to copy/paste into an email to send to everyone who you want to attend your meeting. You can use distribution lists, each person will be treated separately by Doodle. The Administration link is specific to you and will allow you to track peoples responses (you can also visit the Administration page for a reminder of the participation link).
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