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Free Online Meeting Schedulers

Date: 
10/13/2011
Author: 
Rochelle Hahn, MLRI

The days of trying to organize meetings via email, with everyone "replying all" as to availability and clogging up in boxes, should be long gone.  Now, there are a number of nimble, free, online meeting schedulers, that can be used without downloading software or creating accounts.  Although the details of each program varies, in general the programs work as follows:  

  • the meeting organizer gets thinks started by creating a "poll" or "survey" or "chart" with various suggested meeting times and dates
  • the program generates an email link to these potential meeting times, which the organizer  sends to potential meeting participants
  • potential participants click on the email link and indicate which of the proposed meeting times work for them
  • the results are all tallied into a nice chart (usually viewable by both the organizer and the potential participants)
  • the organizer selects the best date, and lets everyone know.

I have been using Doodle (doodle.com/) for some time, and find it to be very user friendly.  Doodle allows you to be specific as to meeting times -- you can propose meeting from 10-11:30 a.m. on day 1, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on day 2, and from 4-6 p.m. on day 3.  One caution -- remember to include a.m. or p.m. in your suggested meeting time -- otherwise, the site defaults to a.m., and you may find yourself inadvertently suggesting that meetings be held in the early hours of the morning, when Doodle assumes that your 2:30 meeting has an a.m. start time. 

Another advantage to Doodle is that it generates a specific chart as to who can meet when.  So, if there is a key participant who needs to be at the meeeting, the organizer can see this person's availability. 

FInally, when using Doodle, you do not need to input any email addresses into the Doodle system.  Instead, Doodle will generate a sample email for the organizer, which includes the link; the organizer can edit this email as desired, then send this email to potential participants using the organizer's own email system.  This makes it very easy to invite a large group, including an email list, to participate in the Doodle.. 

See this blog post from I Love Free Software for some additional meeting scheduler suggestions.  7 Best Free Online Meeting Schedulers


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