Outlook 2007 Best Practices: Calendars and meetings

By Melissa MacBeth

This article is part of a series from Melissa MacBeth's Best practices for Outlook 2007.

 Note    For details on applying these principles, follow the links in the list and inline below to additional articles.

ShowSee links to the rest of the articles in this sequence.

In this article


 Note    The best guidance on meeting dos and don'ts can be found in the article Outlook meeting requests: Essential do’s and don’ts. See the Office Training course Calendar I: Outlook calendar basics for video instruction on using the calendar.

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When is it appropriate to call a meeting?

Call a meeting when:

  • A new group of people is working together for the first time.
  • More than 10 relatively long messages have gone back and forth among several people.
  • Discussion, brainstorming, or collaboration is needed.

Call a meeting when it is the most efficient way to move forward, and be clear what the objective of the meeting is before you call the meeting.

Whom to invite

Only invite people who need to be involved. Each additional person you invite to a meeting adds to the complexity of the meeting, making it harder to control. On the other hand, if a decision needs to be made, make sure all of the key stakeholders are present, or the meeting will be a waste of time and resources.

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How to choose a time to meet

Choose a time when everyone can meet by looking at the invitees’ free/busy information in Calendar.

Free/Busy grid

Fig. 1  Example of free/busy information in an Outlook calendar

For more information about how to see free/busy information, how to set up a recurring meeting, and how to set up a meeting in general, see the article Schedule a meeting and the Office Training course Get out of your Inbox with Outlook 2007.

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When to meet in person versus remotely

Meet in person if:

  • It is the first time this group will be working together.
  • Non-electronic items will be shown or passed around.
  • It is a brainstorming meeting.*
  • It is a collaboration-intensive meeting.
  • Not everyone has a phone, Office Live Meeting, or the proper electronic meeting software and equipment.

Otherwise, consider using Live Meeting or meeting by phone.

*In these cases, Live Meeting can still be an effective way to meet. For tips on how to use Live Meeting, see the following:

Tip    If you are traveling to the meeting location, schedule travel time on your calendar before and after the meeting.

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How to handle related documents

In preparing for a meeting, often there are documents to be shared before or during the meeting:

If all of the attendees are connected to your corporate network, put the documents on a SharePoint site or on a shared network drive.

If any of the attendees are external from your company (for example, a vendor who does not have access to your intranet), consider using a Groove Workspace.

If a document workspace has already been created, send a link to it in an e-mail message.

Do not send attachments in your meeting requests.

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Preparing an agenda: Let Tasks help

  • @Meeting is your central spot for agenda items.

Create a single task, mark it with the @Meeting category, and set the Start Date or Due Date to the date of your meeting. As the meeting date approaches and discussion points come up, add comments, bullets, and thoughts to the task as they occur to you. This task will become your agenda for the meeting. After the meeting, mark the task complete, and create new tasks for your action items

  • If you want to discuss a set of e-mail messages or just one message…

If you have a message you want to discuss at a meeting, flag that message for the day of the meeting and mark it with the @Meeting category.

If you have more than three messages to discuss, don't flag each one because they will pollute your task list. Instead, create a new task with the name of the meeting; right-click and drag the messages to the task (copying as you go). Mark this task with the @Meeting category.

  • If you want more room for your thoughts...

If you are collaborating with other people or just need more room for your thoughts, consider using a OneNote notebook, which can be shared either through a SharePoint site or on a local server. OneNote 2007 provides a richer note-taking experience than Outlook 2007 tasks.

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During the meeting: How to collaborate

You might not need to share your calendar, because everyone in your organization can see when you are free or busy but not necessarily see the content or subject of the meetings and appointments. For more details, see the article Introduction to calendar sharing and the video 3 ways to share your Outlook Calendar with others. However, you can easily share your calendar with your team if you want them to be able to see all of your meetings and appointments.

You may want someone else to manage your calendar on your behalf, for example, an assistant who can accept or decline meetings for you. In that case, you can delegate access to your calendar. If you delegate your calendar, choose only one person: Do not make everyone a delegate of your calendar. Having more than one delegate can cause errors in your calendar.

Create a SharePoint calendar for group activities that everyone has access to, rather than sharing your calendar. For example, create a calendar on a SharePoint site to keep track of the group's vacation schedules.

Send your calendar in an e-mail message when you set up meetings with people who cannot see your free/busy information, such as people outside of your company.

Note    Whether your calendar is shared depends on the version of Microsoft Exchange Server your system is running and how your administrator has configured the server.

How to end a recurring meeting

When a series of meetings has run its course, rather than cancel the meeting, which will remove all historical instances of the meeting, change the recurrence pattern to end on the last occurrence of the meeting. To do this, click the Recurrence button and change the end date.

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When and how to share your calendar

Calendars in Outlook 2007

Fig. 2  Example of shared calendars in Outlook 2007

You might not need to share your calendar, because everyone in your organization can see when you are free or busy but not necessarily see the content or subject of the meetings and appointments. For more details, see the article Introduction to calendar sharing and the video 3 ways to share your Outlook Calendar with others. However, you can easily share your calendar with your team if you want them to be able to see all of your meetings and appointments.

You may want someone else to manage your calendar on your behalf, for example, an assistant who can accept or decline meetings for you. In that case, you can delegate access to your calendar. If you delegate your calendar, choose only one person: Do not make everyone a delegate of your calendar. Having more than one delegate can cause errors in your calendar.

Create a SharePoint calendar for group activities that everyone has access to, rather than sharing your calendar. For example, create a calendar on a SharePoint site to keep track of the group's vacation schedules.

Send your calendar in an e-mail message when you set up meetings with people who cannot see your free/busy information, such as people outside of your company.

Note    Whether your calendar is shared depends on the version of Microsoft Exchange Server your system is running and how your administrator has configured the server.

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About the author

Melissa MacBeth photo Melissa MacBeth is a Lead Program Manager in the Office product group at Microsoft. She worked on several time management features for Outlook 2007, including the To-Do Bar, flags, flagging on send, and the Daily Task List. She lives in Seattle and enjoys gardening.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007