Cri de coeur from the folks you’re inviting to meetings

The enormous change in everyone’s lifestyles has meant that we’re using technology to connect with many more groups of people than we used to. You may have already noticed that your cousins or your worship meetings don’t follow the same practices that your work team does. As a result, you may be scrambling to organize your calendar, even missing meetings. Here are a few things I’ve had happen over the past several weeks:

  • A meeting invitation arrives as an email, not as a calendar appointment. There’s Zoom information included… but I’m busy when the email arrives and I forget to copy it to my calendar. I miss the meeting.
  • I get meeting invitations in several different places (my work Outlook account, my professional Gmail account, and my personal Gmail account). I have to take extra time making sure I don’t miss meetings.
  • A meeting invitation arrives without a Zoom invite included. The first five minutes of the meeting are taken up waiting for the host to realize their mistake and send out the Zoom information.

This issue of FGB will probably be a refresher for long-time readers, but it’s a good reminder!

Set all meetings as calendar appointments.

Not emails. You can and should put all the information everyone needs to prepare for the meeting IN the calendar invite, so they’re not scrambling to locate the meeting agenda, the dial-in information, or the pre-meeting homework that they may be trying to do 30 minutes before the meeting.

Make sure you’re including the right email addresses for your invitees.

There are many reasons you may have multiple email addresses for a meeting attendee. A new hire may have been using their personal email address for previous correspondence. You may have multiple relationships with one of your colleagues. You may even have received a phishing email from someone trying to pretend they’re a colleague, with the result that your colleague’s name ends up on your Contacts list with a fake email address. Check each email address as you add it to your guest list, and they’ll receive the invitation in the place they’d normally expect to get it.

Start with Zoom and then move to your calendar. (Update: Or use a Zoom plugin for Outlook).

Here’s the steps I follow to set up a Zoom meeting:

  1. Check everyone’s availability, if possible. (At work, I check this on Outlook). Don’t set up the meeting as you’re checking availability – just jot down the day and time you want to hold the meeting.
  2. Open your Zoom account. Create the meeting at the date and time you’ve chosen. Don’t worry about adding invitees yet – first save the meeting.
  3. Then use one of the buttons near the bottom to create a calendar invitation in Outlook or Gmail.
  4. Normally, doing this will open up a calendar appointment in Outlook or Gmail. If this doesn’t happen, look in your Downloads folder for a file with the extension .ics and open it – it should open in your calendar.
  5. From the calendar appointment that opens up, invite your guests. The Zoom information will already be included, and you can also add any other material you want (an agenda, meeting homework, etc.)

I repeat: Don’t send a meeting invite as an email!

Why would anyone do that??