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7 Tips for Sending Professional Calendar Invites

Calendar invitations have been a great way to get everyone on the same schedule since the 1990s. They used to be simple - you used them within your company, from your standard desktop computer running Outlook. You invited people within your company to meetings and events, you were all on Exchange, and maybe even invited conference rooms to reserve them. Things were pretty rigid and standardized, mostly in a good way. Nowadays you might need to coordinate people across several companies for a meeting. They might be running Outlook on a PC, Thunderbird on a Mac, GMail/GCal on some flavor of Linux, or many times multiple clients including a mobile OS like iOS or Android. Calendar invitations are being generated by all these email/calendaring clients, automated processes, and online cloud services like WebEx, and many other sources. It is important to understand how your invitations will be consumed, and to adhere to some best practices for maximum effect. I am going to mix in some opinion as well, YMMV, take it with a grain of salt.

testMobile invitations often leave a lot to be desired.

Problems with these invitations:

Most of these problems and several other potential ones can be avoided through some best practices. Here are the 7 MUST DO most important tips to remember:

  1. Assume that 66%+ of the time, your invite will be opened on mobile first. Time and date of the meeting MUST be in text inside the body of the invite, as well as in the date field of the header. Help mobile clients know when your meeting is happening!
  2. Use a conference bridge for EVERY scheduled call! See my related blog post on this, "How to coordinate like a pro: Conference bridges."
  3. Phone numbers should be well-formatted. Use Short PIN numbers if you can control them.
  4. Locations should be well-formatted and GPS-capable. If you have suite numbers/conference room names/other things, include those in text in the BODY of the invite, not in the location field of the invite. The location field should be something a GPS can read like "160 Gould Street, Needham, MA 02494" not "160 Gould, Suite 116, Needham" or "Headquarters" - Help the mobile device help the user!
  5. Include cell numbers for any last-minute changes. Why call (and not email/text) for last-minute changes? See "How to communicate like a pro: 5 tips for choosing the best communication method."
  6. If you would like to include documents, try using Dropbox links, Evernote share links or another online sharing method instead of attaching them directly to the invite. Some clients do not handle the invite attachments well.
  7. Keep embedded links short. Use bit.ly or other shorteners if needed. Avoid having your giant URL accidentally cut off. Truncated URLs are broken URLs.

Here is an example of a good invitation, with many of the numbered best practice items from above called out in red:

testA successful invite

To be even more professional:

Caveats:
Much of my advice is United States-centric, where everyone has access to phone conferencing, and 011 + country codes are not required for international dialing. Apologies in advance to folks in other countries, your mileage may vary.  Some of the items above are from my personal pet peeves/opinions of how things should be. You may have different tolerances/ideas.