How To Schedule A Meeting Without Getting Punched in the Pancreas


By: Sarah Marczynski

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.

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Sarah Marczynski
Sarah joined the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in 2010 working with the Marketing and Development staffs and quickly became interested in community engagement and education. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration focusing in Nonprofit Arts Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where her capstone and other work under Dr. Christopher Horne examined attendance patterns in high-art cultural institutions and network relationships between local arts agencies and cultural partners. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Vocal Music Education from UTC, where she studied under Dr. Kevin Ford and Ron Ulen. Sarah has been active in the Chattanooga arts community, serving as the founding chair of the Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN), graduating from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, and working with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the Choral Arts Society, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Bach Choir. Outside of the arts world, Sarah pretends to be an excellent cook (but she's broken 2 ovens), reads Jane Austen novels, and watches way too much House of Cards.
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