Outlook’s scheduling functions are entirely underutilized. The problem? Many people aren’t aware of the advanced capabilities Outlook Calendar has or how much easier it is scheduling meetings with large groups. Outlook is here to help do the heavy lifting for you.
Large Group Outlook Scheduling Foundation
To lay a foundation, the first place to start with Outlook Calendars is with appointments and meeting requests. When you create a schedule entry that you don’t need to share with anyone else so they can add it to their calendar, like when marking a dentist appointment, you want to create a new appointment. If you’re scheduling a coffee meeting or planning a brainstorming session with your team, creating a new meeting is probably best for you (we’ll get into a few of the fancier options below).
Outlook Meeting Requests
A meeting request will e-mail an invitation for others to respond to, and it adds the time to their calendars so they don’t have to. They can even request a time that works better for them if they need to. Much easier than RSVP cards.
If you’re planning a Skype for Business meeting, you can create a Skype meeting instead, and the e-mail sent out will include a link that allows your recipients to join from the appointment entry or from the e-mail itself.
Sharing Outlook Calendars
It can be difficult to find a good time for everyone to meet when you’re coordinating across five separate schedules (or more). Sharing calendars can make this so much easier.
To share your own schedule, you can select either “E-Mail Calendar” or “Share Calendar” in the toolbar. When you share your calendar, you can control how much or what you share. E-mailing your calendar instead of sharing it allows you to choose what time period you want to share (i.e. just one week or all of it), and your availability will also be shown in the body of the e-mail your recipients get. When you use the “Share Calendar” option, they’ll have to access it in the calendar portion of Outlook in order to see your availability, but you don’t have to specify a date range. Sharing your calendar is better if you have to schedule things regularly, like with your team, but e-mailing your availability could be better for rarer appointments.
Of course, you can adjust how much information on your calendar people can see by setting the permissions. You can either let people just see your availability or share the details with them. This is great for when you’re sharing your schedule with people outside your organization and don’t need them to see who else you’re meeting with at other times on your schedule.
To open a shared calendar on your network like a coworker’s schedule or the schedule for a shared meeting space, you can go to “Open Calendar” and select the “Open Shared Calendar” option. Click “Name” to see the options available. If there is a calendar shared with you that you do not see on the list, check one of the other available address books. Your default should be set to the Global Address List, but you may need to search for the correct one if it isn’t.
Once you open a shared calendar, it should be available for you under the Shared Calendars in your sidebar. You can check and uncheck the box next to the calendar to view or hide it.
Eliminate the mass texts and e-mails sent back and forth trying to find a good time for everyone to meet. Outlook already has these tools available. Why not use them?
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