Surely somewhere in the Community Engagement Manager job description is “Takes meetings that no one else wants to is available for.” I usually enjoy meetings; often I get to hear about unique programs or organizations in the community or get the chance to voice my thoughts on a particular subject.
Sometimes, the meeting gods smile upon you and scheduling is easy. Both schedules match perfectly with a free period and miraculously the perfect location is available for your meeting. Sometimes, though, it’s not so easy.
In a post from 2013, Vu Le, author of the blog Nonprofit with Balls, posted 8 rules for scheduling meetings. I bow to the brilliance and especially appreciate Rule 1: The List of Three:
Rule 1, the List of Three: The meeting initiator must propose, in his initiation email, at minimum three dates and times of when he is available, these aforementioned times being preferably spread over several days. We use that line all the time: “Please let me know what works best for you.” That’s euphemism for “I want to sound thoughtful, but really I just don’t feel like looking at my calendar and proposing several dates that I’m free. Why don’t you do it, and I’ll see if it works for me.” Hell no. That’s lazy. You initiated the meeting; you look at your calendar. It takes a long time to look at my insane schedule to see three times that would work for me. Do you think I just sit in my cubicle watching clips of The Daily Show all day long? Of course not. There’s also the Colbert Report.
If none of the three times that the initiator proposed works for the meeting grantor, it is now the responsibility of the meeting grantor to set parameters (e.g, “this month is awful for me”) and propose a separate set of at least three times that work for him. This List of Three shall be perpetuated in turn by both parties until a mutually agreeable time is determined.
Vu recently posted on the blog’s Facebook page (if you don’t follow it, you should because it’s a small dose of awesome) asking for updates to the list.
My personal contribution: Don’t schedule a meeting when an email will do. Or at least, give me a trophy after attending.