"Isn’t diary management as a VA service just adding appointments to someone’s calendar and sending invitations?"
No! It is soooo much more than that and with any meeting, whether it's in person or online, there are lots of elements I have to consider to ensure my client is in the right place, at the right time, with everything they need to hand.
As a VA, my involvement begins when my client introduces me to assist with the arrangements for a call or meeting. Occasionally the meeting date has already been agreed, but more often than not I need to start from scratch with the arrangements.
Identifying a date that is convenient for everyone involves a few emails or phone calls back and forth and then once agreed, I prepare a calendar invitation that I send to all delegates from my client’s account.
Having permission to directly access my client's calendars means I can manage changes to meetings, invite new delegates and add useful information such as directions or an agenda at any time. Another stress avoided!
It is my responsibility to ensure my clients have everything they need for each appointment and this is where I find utilising the calendar invitation is the most efficient way of keeping everything in one place. It saves clogging up inboxes with multiple emails about location, agenda and who is attending.
Telephone or Video Calls:
For Skype or Zoom, I schedule the meeting in advance and include the link in the calendar invite so that everyone can click to join the call at the agreed time.
For a regular telephone call, I add the phone number in the subject line of the invite so that my client can click on it from their device and dial straight through.
It may also be necessary for me to add in some relevant info to the Notes section of the invite. Remember this info is viewable by anyone that receives the invite so consider carefully what you enter here. Putting everything that my client needs in one place saves time searching at the last minute for a phone number or postcode.
Face to Face Meetings:
If my client is meeting with someone in person, I carry out research into a suitable venue and then make sure the calendar invitation includes the address and postcode of the location along with the phone number and parking options if travelling by car. If a booking was required, such as for a restaurant, then I would also add the confirmation reference so that they can quote it on arrival.
If a meeting or personal commitment requires flights, train travel or overnight accommodation then I add a brief diary entry for each element of the trip so the information is available at a glance. For example:
FLIGHT: LHR to EDI (Flight #). Dep: 0930 / Arr: 10:45
HOTEL: Radisson Blu Hotel (Address & Postcode) – Booking Ref: 123456
TRANSFER: Name and number of driver
CAR PARK: Address & Postcode (Booking Ref: if space pre-booked)
Useful information such as discussion topics, agendas, background information, maps, tickets and booking confirmations are all added to the invitation as attachments or free type text in the Notes section.
VA TOP TIPS:
Here are some other things I take into account when arranging appointments to make sure the valuable time my client has is used as efficiently as possible:
AVAILABILITY – make sure you have a list of all delegates required to attend the call or meeting so that no-one is missed out and there are no conflicts with availability.
TIME DIFFERENCE – be mindful of the different time zones overseas so you don’t set up a call for 3am or 11pm!
RSVP - keep an eye on acceptances from delegates - you don’t want your invite to end up in their junk mail and for the appointment to be missed.
REMINDERS - building in a reminder is super helpful, for example a gentle prompt that a call is coming up in 20 minutes or a reminder the day before a travel departure.
COLOUR CODING - if I need to be aware of a meeting taking place for one of my clients I add it to my own calendar and give them a colour code to identify easily. I also colour code different task types for myself and one of my clients adopts a colour coding system for meeting types; Zoom, F2F, Telephone.
DURATION - be clear on how long is needed for a meeting. Over time I have built up knowledge on the typical duration of frequently arranged meetings; new client calls 30 minutes, weekly finance review 45 minutes, monthly social media content planning 1.5 hours. It doesn’t hurt to double check though as you don’t want your client having to cut things short if they need to rush off or hang up!
BEFORE & AFTER - consider blocking out time either side of an appointment for preparation, follow-up and travel time. I get to know what my clients prefer and which meetings require a little head space and which ones are more routine.
So, if the work that is required to keep your day running like clockwork is getting too much, then why not outsource the arrangements to me? I would take pleasure in streamlining the process on your behalf and freeing up some time in your busy day. Please contact me for further information. Flexible packages available - no minimum hours per month; as much or as little support as you need.
Fast Lane VA Ltd
M: 07814 456740