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The 6 principles of building a great meeting scheduler

This post from Marc highlights some of the thinking behind how MeetOMatic was built:

If you’ve spent time arranging meetings, you will know that the task typically involves some tricky moments trying to satisfy everyone’s constraints and to converge on a schedule that works. Often you end up playing ‘telephone tag’ or ’email tag’ trying to chase individuals. Even if you use modern diary/meeting management workgroup or scheduling tools, things can still become unstuck if one or two individuals don’t use these meeting management tools properly (or don’t use them at all).

Our research into human computer interaction, psychology and intelligent agents has suggested six fundamental principles underlying the creation of good diary/meeting management software, and these are the same principles that we at MeetOMatic have stuck to consistently as the longest-running player in the business (17 years):

  1. Autonomy: People often prefer to ‘do their own thing’ (e.g. arrange circumstances to attend or avoid a specific meeting), rather than delegating responsibility to another person or a software tool.
  2. Different tools: You cannot count on everyone you intend to invite to a meeting to use the same single diary/meeting software, or even software that ‘interoperates’ (communicates seamlessly) with your own.
  3. Least common denominator: You can, however, safely assume that the people you want to invite have email and a web browser.
  4. Familiarity: People like to work with software tools they already know.
  5. Speed: People will often pick up the phone or send a conventional email rather than wait for a new software tool to help them, even if that tool looks innovative and promising. Reason? The old tried-and-tested methods feel faster!
  6. Granularity: For meetings that involve many possible dates or many people, the real problem is homing in on dates or AM/PM slots at a coarse-grained level in order to obtain a first-pass solution, rather than fussing about the precise time. In fact, a first-pass solution to a very complex scheduling problem provides such a large immediate payoff that it guarantees reuse of meeting scheduler software, even if only a few times per year. It also encourages a simple and speedy user interaction.

With these principles in mind, we designed MeetOMatic so that you can deal with the ‘big picture’ focus of arranging meetings, especially large meetings, with least amount of ‘cognitive overload’ (i.e. the least hassle!).

Do you agree with these principles? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @meetomatic!


Announcing integration with GoToMeeting Free

We’re excited to announce a new integration with GoToMeeting’s super simple new online meeting tool.

GoToMeeting Free allows you to host online meetings in just one click; perfect for meeting with colleagues remotely.  You can get started in just one click, and features super easy screen and file sharing. Great for remote collaboration, meetings, and discussions.

You’ll notice a new link when you schedule a meeting, allowing you to set up a web conference directly from MeetOMatic in just one click. It couldn’t be simpler!



Check it out and let us know what you think!

No-nonsense meetings à la Steve Jobs

I had the great good fortune to work at the headquarters of Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California, in the early 1990’s, as part of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group.  The period when I was there happened to coincide with the period during which Steve Jobs had been ousted from his own company, before his game-changing return in 1997.  Even in his absence, however, it was obvious that his ‘fingerprints’, ‘vibe’ and ‘ethos’ were everywhere, but the ‘vibe’ was slipping and the ship was floundering in his absence.  Jobs’ style and influence are well-documented and easy to find, so I’m adding this little note just to point out a handy article I came across recently that highlights the ‘Steve Jobs approach’ to efficient meetings, which will be of interest to many Meetomatic users and more generally to our blog readers.

The article is by Drake Baer of Business Insider UK, who writes that

American businesses lose an estimated $37 billion a year due to meeting mistakes.
Steve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies.

Jobs’ techniques involved keeping meetings small, making sure that there was a specific named person driving each agenda item, and refusing to let people use PowerPoint as a veil to bluff their way through poorly-thought-out ideas.

Read Drake Baer’s article to see these points expanded and to get a feel for the ‘Steve Jobs approach’, via the following link: 3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying