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10 Tips For Improving Your Appointment Setting Skills

10 Tips For Improving Your Appointment Setting Skills

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    No matter what business you’re in, the odds are that you spend at least some time in appointments. Your appointments may be big group meetings, one-on-ones, or even job interviews. You may even be skipping the face-to-face aspect of meeting and be taking conference calls or using Skype. No matter what type of meeting you’ve scheduled, though, these tips can help you improve your appointment setting skills.

    1. Set agendas ahead of time. Knowing what you plan to accomplish in a meeting can help you decide how long to plan to stay at that appointment — assuming you can keep to your agenda. It can be hard to get other people to stay on track, but no one really wants to spend all day in a single appointment. Furthermore, completing an agreed upon agenda is really the only way to be sure when your meeting is over.
    2. Offer time and date options for appointments. Rather than going through a lengthy back and forth, either on the phone or via email, pick two or three appointment times that work for you and present them to the other half of your appointment. If you’re dealing with a larger group, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one option won’t work for someone, and having multiple options is a much faster way to reach consensus.
    3. Avoid fancy software applications. While there is some very snazzy appointment setting software out there, try to avoid using anything out of the ordinary. The exception to this rule is parties or very large meetings. In general, using these applications take more time than they’re worth — there’s a learning curve for new users, and having to visit a site to respond can take double the time of replying to an email. However, when you’re trying to coordinate large groups of people, using an application can provide a central location rather than sending out huge batches of emails.
    4. Make sure you really need a meeting. Plenty of appointments are set for simple things like handing over a document for approval. Unless that document is short enough to be completely examined during the meeting, it might be more worthwhile to drop off the document and come back later to answer questions and handle the approval process. Before actually setting your appointment, think about whether the matter could be handled in a faster way.
    5. Minimize travel time. One of the reasons that appointments eat up so much time in our calendars is the necessity of travel. We have to travel to clients’ offices, coffee shops or wherever the heck we’re meeting. We can minimize that commitment by suggesting that we meet at our own locations, meet halfway, or skip meeting in person altogether. Options like telephone calls or video conferencing can often handle all the requirements of that appointment you were going to drive across town for.
    6. Schedule time for both preparation and debriefing. When you set your appointment, think about what you might need to do to prepare for it — review a report, prepare a presentation or iron your shirt — and schedule time for each of those activities before your actual appointment. It’s also worthwhile to schedule a fifteen-minute prep session just before your appointment for any last minute details. Same goes for afterwards: you may have certain follow-up tasks to handle after your meeting. Scheduling at least a few minutes after an appointment guarantees that you’ll have time to make sure your notes are complete and any sort of further action at least makes it on to your calendar (if you can’t do it then).
    7. Separate personal and business appointments. Many of us try to load all of our out-of-the-office appointments into one day. Ignoring the problem of what happens if just one runs late, you’ve got the issue of trying to switch gears between the presentation you just gave to a client and the shot the doctor’s waiting to give you. That sort of mental switch up can only make it harder to handle your later appointments. Try to schedule your personal and business appointments on different days.
    8. Keep your appointment schedulers up to date. If you aren’t the only person scheduling your appointments, it’s vital to keep the others in the loop. Otherwise, your significant other might be expecting you at a family dinner at the same time you’re finishing up a major project. I like shared calendars, such as Google Calendar for that very reason, but there are ways to share just about every type of calendar, if you’re reliant on your own system. Appointment schedulers can include your manager, your significant other, an administrative assistant (yours or the departments) and a whole host of other people.
    9. Limit invitees. You may not need the whole company present for a progress report. Instead, decide who actually needs to be in on your appointment — you can always send out a mass email later on if people feel left out. I’ve been in situations before where higher ups felt left out if you didn’t bring them in on every single appointment you were setting up. The best bet seems to be presenting the meeting as something that wouldn’t be a valuable use of their time.
    10. Confirm everything! Confirm when and where the meeting is, what the agenda covers, even how to get there. All you really need is a brief email a day or two before the appointment that outlines the appointment and ask for a simple yes in response if everything is correct.

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    Last Updated on June 12, 2019

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

    With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

    #10. Look for Joy in Life

    An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

    • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
    • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
    • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
    • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

    #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

    If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

    • 13 Movies
    • 11 TV Shows
    • 5 Words or Phrases
    • 19 Personal Stories
    • 5 Cartoons
    • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
    • 11 Comedians
    • 7 TV Personalities
    • 7 Funny Photos
    • 7 People You Know
    • 15 of Anything Else
    • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

    Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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    #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

    Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

    • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
    • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
    • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
    • Times of change or learning
    • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

    When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

    #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

    Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

    Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

    • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
    • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

    #6. Understand Your Audience

    Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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    • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
    • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
    • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
    • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

    In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

    #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

    There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

    Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

    • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
    • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
    • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
    • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

    With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

    #4. Get over Yourself

    Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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    You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

    • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
    • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
    • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

    Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

    #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

    The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

    As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

    • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
    • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
    • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

    #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

    If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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    Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

    Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

    #1. Dive into the Fun

    Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

    • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
    • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
    • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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