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The Basics of Scheduling Meetings With Your VA

This post is part of a series in which we’ll explore a different outsourcing topic and offer our advice on what we’ve found works best.

 

Here at YEC, we work with over a dozen virtual assistants to support our team. Because we believe so strongly in the power of outsourcing, we've worked with top VA service providers including Zirtual, UAssistMe, and Ruby Receptionists to provide members with generous discounts. To learn more about these benefits, visit the marketplace on your member dashboard. Or, email your member concierge directly for support. [ Note: This benefit is for YEC members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]


One of the most fundamental duties of your VA is to know the ins and outs of your business and personal calendars, keeping you updated in real time. Before this can happen, however, you need to help your VA to better understand your scheduling preferences so they can seamlessly manage your calendar. The following five basic practices will ensure your meetings are scheduled correctly every time.   

  1.     Create a Google doc that lists out all your preferences for scheduling meetings.

As we’ve mentioned before, the more time you put into training your VA up front, the better rate of success you’ll see from this benefit -- 15 minutes to a half hour of your time can really make or break your relationship going forward.

Write down on paper or in a Google doc all of the preferences you have for scheduling meetings. A few of these might underscore what kind of meeting this is, such as:

  • If it’s a coffee meeting, how long should it be for, and what’s your go-to coffee shop? If you’re getting drinks, what days are best for meeting after-hours? What specific restaurants or bars are the most convenient meeting spots?
  • How much time should the VA set aside for a phone meeting? A check-in call with a team member might take no longer than 15 minutes, but an all-hands staff meeting could take over an hour. Make sure your VA understands the importance of blocking out different periods of time.
  • What is the protocol for conference calls versus dialing directly? Here at YEC, we use UberConference, though other free tools exist such as FreeConferenceCall.com.
  1.     Streamline the calendar invitation process.

Another crucial scheduling practice to cover with your VA is the format of your calendar invitations and how they should be laid out: this can include how you’d like the subject and description formatted, as well as designating who should call who to avoid any confusion. Work with your VA to ensure your Google calendar and apps sync up with the calendar on your phone (like iCal if you’re an Apple user) so any calendar information available online is also available at your fingertips via your smartphone -- this can prove especially useful when you’re running from place to place.

Once these conditions have been agreed upon, work out with VA when to send reminders for meetings. Would you like to receive them five minutes before a meeting starts? An hour before? Important things you need to be aware of ahead of time should also be baked into the calendar invite -- like a resume and cover letter if you’re about to interview a job candidate.

  1.     Stipulate how many meetings can be scheduled per day.

One of the most common problems folks encounter when they first start working with a VA is overscheduling themselves: you start forwarding meeting invitations over to your assistant and before you know it, you’re booked solid. To prevent this situation from transpiring, make it clear to your VA how many meetings you can take per day -- it’s always best to air on the side of caution. For instance, my VA only allows for one half-hour person meeting per day with someone outside my team, because my primary duty as COO needs to be making sure that the internal team is functioning at their top level of performance.

Timing of these meetings is another critical component to discuss: what’s the earliest time of day you’d be available to take a meeting, and what’s the cutoff? There could be exceptions to these parameters, but make sure your VA always asks you first before making an exception, and then have them notify you if and when they are.

  1.     Make it clear when your VA should attend your meetings (and take notes).

Tell your VA when there’s going to be a meeting that they can sit in on. Not only can they take notes; they can also make note of any action items resulting from the call and manage the process of sending them to other call participants and following up on deliverables. While meeting notes can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, this approach will keep everything moving in the right direction.

  1.     Take the time to write out email templates for your VA to use when scheduling meetings.

Design exact email templates for your VA to use when reaching out to people to schedule meetings -- this way, there’s never any room for error for them to phrase something in a way you’re not happy with. At the end of the day, it’s better for their communications to seem templated than for them to make a mistake because they weren’t aware of your language preferences.

Ready to take advantage of a virtual assistant for your business? Visit the marketplace on your member dashboard to learn more about our discounts with Zirtual, UAssistMe, and Ruby Receptionists. Or, email your member concierge directly for support. [Note: This benefit is for YEC members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]