Use SurveyMonkey to Schedule Meetings

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I don’t know about you, but I often find the process of scheduling meetings (those that involve multiple participants) a bit inefficient, if not dreadful.

Quite often I get email messages like this:

Can you meet with me and Jan about that thing some time this week?

Let’s assume I know what that thing is. It would still be nice to know approximately how long the meeting will take, along with a few suggested dates and times.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciate all invitations to meetings. This usually means that someone is interested in hiring me or collaborating with me on some project. These are good things. And the people who send such email messages are often doing so from a portable device, on the run, with only a few minutes between commitments. Maybe even at a stop light. And they’re probably even writing me first, to give me first choice.

So I don’t begrudge such invitations. I simply wish there were a better way.

And I think I found it: SurveyMonkey!

Earlier today, two clients and I agreed to check out Google Hangout. I decided to create a survey with SurveyMonkey (I’m still on the FREE plan) to collect everyone’s preferred dates and times.

It worked like a charm.

The How-To

Step 1: Create the Survey

I created the survey with just two questions:

  1. a “Single Textbox” question for the respondent’s name (unnecessary, it turns out)
  2. a “Matrix of Choices (Multiple Answers per Row)” question for the dates and times
    Note how simple it was to generate a survey with 28 options! You just enter the Row Choices (in my case, 4 dates) in one box and the Column Choices (hour timeslots) in another:

And here’s the result:

Step 2: Add an Email Collector

I wanted to use the Email Collector data collection method, because it stores and associates each respondent’s name and email address with his or her responses.

The wizard for this data collection method takes you through the process of:

  • adding recipients for the invitation (email, first name, last name, and a custom value)
  • setting the from email address for the invitiation (which needs to be verified)
  • creating the invitation message, including special shortcode-like codes for embedding the URL of the survey and, optionally, personalized stuff like “FirstName”
  • scheduling the mailing of the invitation (one option of which is “immediately”, which means “in 5 minutes”)

I set my invitation to “immediately”, and, sure enough, the message went out within five minutes. (I know this because I was one of the recipients.

Step 3: Anaylize Results

Granted, as of this writing I have received only one response. But here’s what the “Response Summary” screen looks like:

It’s easy to see that when more responses are received, it’ll be easy to determine which dates and times will work for everyone. (Just look for the 100%s.)

And here’s what the “Browse Responses” screen looks like:

Conclusion

Before deciding to use SurveyMonkey, I looked at Meeting Wizard, based on a recommendation from a colleague. While also free, Meeting Wizard was too structured for this particular circumstance. If I had used Meeting Wizard, I would have had to add 28 separate dates/times (or just 24, if I were to exclude “Unavailable”).

So, next time you want to schedule a meeting with multiple participants, consider firing up SurveyMonkey. The free version currently supports:

  • an unlimited number of surveys
  • 10 questions per survey
  • 100 responses per survey

And, of course, SurveyMonkey can do so much more than schedule meetings.

Need or want help getting over the SurveyMonkey learning curve? Give me a shout!

Please feel free to post comments and questions below.

Postscript:

As per the final results, our Google Hangout will be Wednesday at 11:30 am ET:

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About JeffCohan.com

The nSiteful Tech Blog (the official blog of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc. since January of 2013) is where I (Jeff Cohan) and (occasionally) associates will be posting articles of potential interest to like-minded techies, nSiteful clients who are playing active roles in the maintenance of their own Web sites and blogs, and pretty much anyone interested in how Web strategies and tools can help them reach their goals.

This entry was posted in Case Studies and tagged , by Jeff Cohan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jeff Cohan

Jeff and his wife, Margie, are the proud parents of Sarah and Jake. Jeff is the founder, president and chief cook and bottle washer of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc., a Web development and Internet Consulting firm. In his spare time, Jeff builds Web sites and Web applications, plays guitar, putters around in his basement woodworking shop, mercilessly spoils his grandchildren, and creates videos from more than two decades of home movies. His current video project is an extended montage of people (mainly family members) asking him to stop filming them.

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