The Startups.co Guide : Get The Most From Your Calendar (Part 2/6)

Get the most out of meetings by using the proper medium for that specific type of interaction. When meeting in person—don’t travel across town—instead, meet at your favorite coffee shop.

March 13th, 2017   |    By: Wil Schroter    |    Tags: Management, Productivity, Virtual Assistants, Time, Staff, Advisors, Mentorship & Coaching

CHAPTER TWO: Control The Venue

In This Chapter:

-How to control the location, medium and time of meetings
-How to optimize your schedule for each meeting medium
-How to share your “Go-To” preferences


Once you’ve managed to get your arms around the optimal duration for meetings, you can take your scheduling to another level by optimizing the venues.

The typical cadence of a meeting goes something like this:

Darth Vader: “Grand Moff Tarkin, I’d like to get together to talk about the Rebel force that has appeared outside the Death Star’s perimeter.”

Grand Moff Tarkin: “Sounds cool Lord Vader, how about we meet at the Starbucks in Sector Alpha at 7 p.m.?”

Darth Vader: “Oh I love me some Venti Skim Milk, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free Caramel Macchiato, I’ll see you there then.”

Darth Vader, for as powerful of a Sith lord as he is, just conceded control of three critical elements of the calendar game – location, medium, and time.  

In this case it’s fairly irrelevant given the soon to be ultimate destruction of the Death Star, but even still – he should have never let this whole meeting conundrum take place.

Control the 3 Calendar Variables

If you want to take back your calendar you’ve got to learn to take control of the 3 Calendar Variables.

  • Location.  Unless you’re really into the serendipitous discovery of coffee shops and conference rooms, letting someone else determine the meeting location is never helpful.  You want venues that are easy to get to, close to your next appointment, and if food is a factor, places you actually enjoy.
  • Medium.  More important than location is the medium – phone, face to face, instant message, video chat, HAM radio – whatever.  You want to optimize every meeting so that it’s leveraging the best tool for the job.  In our case, you want your VA to do that for you.  Could Darth have saved the Death Star if he covered his meeting via low resolution holographic video phone Skype?  Probably. But we’ll never know..
  • Time.  Here we have good ol’ Tarkin telling Vader what time they should meet.  Does Vader have availability at that time?  Perhaps he’s doing Jedi Hot Yoga.  Vader should know that setting a meeting time should always coincide with optimizing for your best time, not other people’s.

Optimize for Medium

There are so many great ways to communicate these days, but we still tend to use them fairly arbitrarily.  We call when we’re in the car.  We meet face-to-face when it seems politically appropriate.  We email whenever humanly possible.

Instead of using these tools arbitrarily, you should control your calendar by using them very deliberately.  In the case of your assistant working for you, you can ask them to specifically use the tools that save you the most time or create the most amount of efficiency.

You can rank these differently, but generally:

  • Quick, Non Critical.  (Email, Instant Messenger, Text).  This is your first line of defense.  Anything that can be moved to Email, IM or Text does a few great things for you – it keeps the message back/forth brief, and it makes it asynchronous so you can respond whenever possible.
  • Lots of Back/Forth, Timely.  (Phone, Video Chat).  Most text-based comms are good for simple communication, but if you really need to have a discussion, such as an interview or a sales process, you really can’t beat a good old fashioned phone call, or ideally, video chat.  The challenge of course is that it can eat up lots of time where a simple email could have sufficed.  Choose wisely here.
  • Personal Dynamic, Relationships (In Person).  Nothing beats a face to face meeting for maximum impact.  Remember all of those amazing moments you shared with your parents over video chat?  No?  Of course not.  Real moments are made in person.  They also happen to be the most logistically complicated and costly of meetings, so unless the interaction requires the personal touch, this is a last resort.

List your Go-To Locations

One way to help control your meeting times and the cadence of the meetings is to give yourself a home field advantage – stick to a few tried and true locations and always suggest them first.

If you’re using an assistant then making a quick list of your favorite coffee shops, restaurants or conference rooms is a must.  Aside from finding yourself in places you enjoy more often, it will also allow you control the time between meetings, letting you make sure your lunch just happens to be two doors down from your next meeting.

This sounds obvious but how many meetings have you attended in the last few weeks where you were the one setting the venue?  Not many?  You see what we mean?


Key Takeaway:

Get the most out of meetings by using the proper medium for that specific type of interaction. When meeting in person—don’t travel across town—instead, meet at your favorite coffee shop.

All chapters:


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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