How do you feel when popping into your Google Calendar window on a Monday morning?
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with meetings. A meeting can make (or break) your day, and scheduling meetings can turn into an exhausting game. At the end of the day, meetings can become a costly activity if they are not scheduled, planned and run efficiently.
Some of us dislike meetings so much that sarcastic products like NoToMeeting have been created. But before you decide to start triggering anonymous emails to kindly ask that teammate to stop sending meeting invites, you can decide to read on and get inspired for you and your team to schedule smarter meetings.
In this article, we’ll take you through a few Google Calendar secrets like appointment scheduling to avoid back and forth and secure slots when you would like to allow meetings in your schedule.
Then, we’ll detail why we at Gmelius created Meeting Scheduler for Gmail. It’s a scheduling tool for Google Calendar to help you transform the way you do meetings, and it can be used for free.
As a wrap up, we will also share our top 3 best practices (that our team uses at Gmelius) so you can improve your meeting workflows across your teams.
How to Schedule Google Calendar Appointments
You are about to schedule a meeting but tired already of the back and forth that will follow? Scheduling meetings in Google Calendar can be simplified with the "Appointment Scheduling" feature. It's a nice feature but one has to know its way around G Cal to find it. What does it do? It allows you to set defined slots for meetings, to let your contacts book a meeting at their convenience, for a duration you have set.
Here is how it works: when creating a meeting in Google Calendar, click "Appointment Slots" and simply use the drop down to set the slot duration of your choice (ex: 30 minutes), or make it a single slot.
Once done, you can click on "Go to appointment page for this calendar" and share the URL with your participants so they can book a time.
It's worth noting that if you add guests inside the event, they will not receive an invitation to book a slot. They will instead get a notification for each appointment booked through the appointment page, and the meeting will then appear in their calendar. Guests added to an appointment slot event are rather a teammate that needs to attend the meetings with you, or an assistant who needs to be in the loop schedule.
While this hidden feature is an interesting way to avoid back and forth, the look and feel of this experience is a bit unpolished.
There is also an important limitation: the Google Calendar appointment page only allows participants to book a meeting in Google Calendar, meaning they need to be a Google Calendar user. This may work great to streamline appointment inside your company, or with people whom you know use Google Calendar already. But this might not be suitable when inviting a business contact outside your organisation who uses another suite of tools.
How to step up Google Calendar scheduling
What if you could embed Google Calendar meeting slots right inside your Gmail compose window, allowing guests even outside Google Workspace to book a meeting with you without the back and forth?
At Gmelius, we believe meetings can be smarter, even beyond a neat embed. As a collaboration platform, we know a thing or two about optimizing your workflows. So we have created an appointment scheduling tool that can help you streamline the way you schedule and even run successful meetings. We've simply named it "Meeting Scheduler" and it can be used for free.
Smart and sleek appointment slots inside your emails
First impressions count! We wanted Meeting Scheduler to be a neat addition to your email outreach. Whether you're trying to book that first meeting with a prospect, scheduling an intro meeting with a new partner, or inviting a candidate to a job interview, offering a sleek and frictionless experience is the first step to a successful meeting. Meeting scheduler allows you to embed a meeting inside an email in Gmail. Each meeting has its public page so you can also share the link, or add a simple "Book a meeting with me" link to your email signature, on anywhere you'd like.
Meeting scheduler integrates with Google Meet and Zoom so the video conferencing link of your choice will be automatically added right inside the appointment slot for you and your guest. Once your guests book a meeting, you will receive an email notification and the slot will be scheduled in your Google Calendar.
A library of meetings at your fingertips
You can set a standard 1:1 meeting, or create as many meeting types as needed to fit your processes. From your Gmail compose window, you can access all your defined meetings and select the one to insert. Are you working in sales? Typical meeting invites like demos, discovery, onboarding, and more can be automated.
You can also retrieve your list of meetings on the go using the Gmelius mobile app, and insert your appointment slots as you compose your email from your smartphone.
Enhanced settings to best prepare yourself and participants
The worst thing that can ruin a meeting is that participants come unprepared. So using meeting scheduler, you can include an agenda to set expectations and even list pre-meeting questions that your guests can answer ahead of time.
Extra options to avoid meeting-itis and give yourself some space
Having too many meetings, or no time between meetings can drain your energy and well-being. Because our #1 value is to care (for our users, our teammates and the work we do), we have also added 2 options to keep you sane and help you balance your days. You can cap the maximum number of meetings that can be booked by day. And you can also set a buffer in between meetings so you can secure time for a needed break.
Our 3 Tips to Increase Google Calendar Productivity
At Gmelius like any other company, meetings are part of our daily routine (and part of our success!). But as a collaboration platform, we have a point of view regarding how meetings should be run to make the most of everyone's time and keep one's Google Calendar sane. From meetings with our customers to internal meetings, we have developed a few principles across the company which we'd like to share with you. If some of them would make sense for your team, feel free to give them a try.
Shrink 1-hour meetings to 45 minutes
That movement isn't new, it started in 2010 when Timebridge introduced the "45-minute meeting standard" into their product when online calendars would default to 1-hour. This is a standard we happily enforce at Gmelius. If you think about it, that's a way to save 25% of everybody's time with a shared commitment to efficiency.
Can you change your meetings' default duration in Google Calendar? Yes!
You simply need to open your settings, then click on "Event Settings" in the left sidebar. Google also offers a "speedy meeting" option, that will automatically shrink a 30-minute meeting to 25, and a 1-hour meeting to 50 minutes, which will save you 16% of your meeting time, allowing for that break you might miss too often when on back-to-back meetings.
Never send a Google Calendar invite without an agenda
Forgetting to send an agenda is a recipe for disaster. Planning ahead for your meeting can be as important as running it. Agendas give structure and set expectations for all participants.
At Gmelius, in every Google Calendar event description, we like to add a link to a shared document where each participant can add the topics they would like to go through to the agenda. Each participants reads the shared document ahead of the meeting, so they can come prepared, ready to provide support or answers. We use that very same document for taking notes on the fly during the meeting, and listing action items by owners.
For external meetings, like with vendors or partners, we like to use Google Docs. You can simply create a Meeting Notes document and share the link inside your Google Calendar invitation, with the agenda defined. Google Docs Template Gallery includes templates for Meeting Notes so you don't have to start from scratch.
For internal meetings, we like to use Slite which we also use as a company wiki. Slite offers friendly templates for many things, including meeting notes.
Make room for Deep Work straight from your Google Calendar
If you take a look at your calendar for next week, how many hours of meetings are already scheduled?
A recent study from the Harvard Business School looked at the emails and meetings of 3.1 million people across 16 global cities and found out that people tend to have 13% more meetings than before the COVID-19 pandemic. With remote work becoming the new normal, it becomes crucial to protect your schedule to allow yourself to concentrate on important projects.
At Gmelius, because caring for our teammates is deeply rooted in our values, we wanted to recognize that our employees all need time to focus. So we've introduced "Deep Work Wednesdays" where internal meetings are a no-go.
If Deep Work is not yet a company policy, you can still set yourself up for Deep Work using Google Calendar.
First, you can protect your schedule by setting a recurring event on your Google Calendar that will show you as "busy". You can either give a public name to that event or set it to private.
And, as this quiet slot will definitely brighten your day, you can add a pop of color so it stands out when you open your Google Calendar window!
Wrapping up: are you ready for smarter meetings?
At Gmelius, we're obsessed with simplifying teamwork. So we hope the above examples and Google Calendar hacks inspired you to re-think the way you plan and do meetings. And if you're curious to give our Meeting Scheduler a spin, we invite you to try Gmelius for free. It may also help you discover more ways to improve collaboration inside your company.