Outlook - Meeting Planning & Tracking
Organizing a group of busy people can be a challenge, but with Outlook's built-in tools, it makes this task much easier.
If you are working with colleagues who do not have their calendar setup to show busy/available times, please encourage them to do so - or suggest they contact the Help Desk firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext.1010 for assistance.
This feature improves meeting scheduling efficiency within the Trent staff/faculty groups.
Initiating a Meeting invitation:
- Select Calendar from your ribbon
- Select "New Meeting:
- You will get a "New Meeting/Appointment" screen with "To:", "Subject",and "Location" fields, along with starting and ending times and dates. Complete these fields as necessary. Your time/date fields will "auto-populate" with the spot your cursor is at on the calendar. It is easy to spot a free time on the calendar and forget to move your cursor there. Always double-check the time/date fields to ensure that they are correct.
- Before clicking on "Send" at this point, it is recommended that you use "Scheduling Assistant" to ensure that all invitees are available for your preferred meeting time. This allows you to plan an alternate if necessary.
For the purposes of this portion of the instructions, we will use an "All-IT" meeting with the entire team invited.
Once you have populated the fields on the Appointment screen, select "Scheduling Assistant" from the ribbon. You can also add attachments to this screen such as agendas or additional documents needed for the meeting so that people have them available in the invitation rather than in a separate e-mail.
The Scheduling Assistant screen will then pull in the status from each of the attendees calendars for the date that you indicated on your Appointment screen (if they have their settings set to allow - IT"s recommendation for planning efficiency). As an invitee to a meeting you also have access to the Scheduling Assistant to allow you visibility if you are going to Propose A New Time, for instance.
The time will be bordered in a deep blue line to the left/right of the start and end times of your request from your appointment screen. Although there seems to be a lot happening on this screen it provides a lot of flexibility and visibility into when the best times are for the meeting or alternate times that could work for all attendees.
In this example the appointment screen had Wed.Mar 30 at 9am as the designated time for the appointment/meeting. Notice the heavy border down the right and left side of that timeslot for all attendees. These borders can be dragged to another time slot to allow for ease of use.
Theoretically, another good time for this group would have been 1pm that same day (with the exception of one possible person). Some staff will allow the detail to be shown in their settings for the appointments on their calendars (words visible); others are showing free/busy time only (no words).
The legend along the bottom explains what the various patterns and/or colours represent.
Adjust the time/date settings on this screen (instead of jumping back to the appointment screen to change) to check another date for availability. You can also drag the heavy borders of the original time slot to adjust length of meeting or the actual time slot itself to another date/time.
Add attendees using your address lists (if you are the originator of the meeting).
When you have a suitable time for the meeting based on everyone's schedule, you can click the "Send" button which is above the attendees name list
or you can click on "Appointment" in the Ribbon to go back to the original "Appointment" screen to finish adding any additional information, add attachments etc.and then hit "Send" from there.
Tracking Meeting Attendees:
Polling for best available meeting times (non-Trent attendees and students included):
The added functionality of Microsoft's app "FindTime" allows you to poll non-Trent or student attendees for available times prior to scheduling, then launch the invitation based on the responses received. At the moment, it only works on the PC (not the Mac) but for PC users, it is a big help.
You can access it through the "Apps for Office" icononce you are in the "Appointment" or "New Meeting" screen
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