T at’s easier said than done. Our statistics show that the average plan takes nine apps, 22 app switches, 77 swipes, 13 minutes on the phone and 10 texts. And 40% of the time, that brilliant idea you had to get people together fails completely. Since no one’s psychic, how do you
suggest the right plan the fi rst time? It might seem like a bit of a dark
art, but ultimately it’s surprisingly simple. You just have to get people to agree on four things – who, what, where and when. And quickly.
First you’ve got to decide what kind of activity is going to be attractive to the people that you want to attend. Is it a lunchtime coff ee, casual dinner or drinks after work? Or do you need a shared interest to bond over, or a larger group to get together for an activity out of work hours? Do you want the vibe to be special and memorable to all-out impress, or are you going for an under- stated, unpretentious, personal kind of atmosphere to really get to know them? You can get ideas for things to do
from websites like Time Out, which has inspiration for lots of activities in most major cities, or on-the-go using the BarChick text message service which recommends bars in London (only) based on the vibe you’re going for.
Next up, you need to make sure the right people can make the time you choose. Scheduling is an absolute nightmare – partly because the etiquette is that you have to ask for availability, and wait for a response. It gets messy and long – the more people you have the more you might be tempted just to set the date and be damned, but you risk your key people being unavailable. Asking for each person to email you their availability can lead to a fl ooded inbox, and the nightmare of trying to plot out each person’s availability on a spreadsheet in the hope of fi nding the elusive mutually convenient date. So, this approach is best avoided. One option is to off er a few (say three) dates and times, then ask each person which one works best for them. Something like Doodle can help
you work out who is available when, and can collate the information in
Google Maps www.google.co.uk/maps
Time Out www.timeout.com
Whatsapp Group www.whatsapp.com
one place. However, it can be tricky to get people to actually fi ll it out, and it doesn’t really work for smaller or more casual groups. T ere are services like x.ai
, a robot assistant that claims to organise meetings for you, but many users report their contacts being irritated by “computer says no” moments, and the pomp of getting a robot to organise your lunch meeting.
T en, you have to decide where your meeting will take place. Hopefully you know the people involved well enough to know where they work or live, and can mentally triangulate where’s a good venue with accessible transport links that will be easy for them to get to. T e fancier the occasion or venue, or the more important the other attendees are, the less you have to make the location work for everyone. If you’re organising dinner in a table suspended over the Cannes skyline with Elon Musk as a guest of honour, I’d probably move a few things to make it happen! Google Maps or Citymapper might help you work out venue locations and travel times, but you’re pretty much on your own here.
Next, how are you going to get people to confi rm? If it’s a big event you could use something like ticketing website, Eventbrite, but you might
come off as slightly neurotic if you do that for casual drinks or dinner. You could start a WhatsApp group, but with the amount of notifi cations lighting up your phone that would cause, you might want to leave your own group before your important meeting’s even been confi rmed!
Send everyone the �inal details
Finally, you’ll need to send the fi nal details, to make sure everyone has the fi nal plan of date, time and location. T is could be email, WhatsApp or included in the dairy entry if you are using Outlook or Google calendars. Ideally this notifi cation is done about seven days before the event – but of course in the real world that isn’t always possible. But the later you leave that fi nal confi rmation, the more likely it is that people will cancel as they simply won’t have put it in their diary. If appropriate, include directions, parking information, room numbers and emergency contacts.
40% of the time, that brilliant idea you had to get people together fails completely
As most project managers, PAs and other super-organised people know, the core formula for any type of plan is the same – who, what, where and when. And although that sounds simple, the logistics of actually making a meeting happen can be boringly time consuming. And, the truth is, there’s nothing out there that can do all the legwork of making complete plans for you. And that’s why I started PlanSnap. Technology is assisting us with
all aspects of our lives, and that’s only set to increase with the rise of artifi cial intelligence. If our robot overlords really are coming, let’s put them to work doing the repetitive tasks like planning meetings and social occasions, leaving us far more time to do the things they can’t do.
Louise Doherty is founder of PlanSnap. To �ind out more, visit www.plansnap.com
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