How to Get a Meeting in a Busy Person’s Diary

21st October, 2020

How to Get a Meeting in a Busy Person’s Diary

My husband was on the phone to his bank this week with a simple request (or so he thought).


They insisted, however, it was critical he either come into a branch (er, pandemic, anyone?) or fax them with more details.


Yes, you heard right. FAX them.


Because of course who hasn’t got a fax machine at home these days, right? Mine’s sitting right next to my Palm Pilot and Sony Discman.




But we do this all the time in communication.


Make it too hard for people to do what we’re asking, and then get surprised when they don’t comply.


It’s especially true when it comes to setting up meetings or calls with busy people. We make these 3 mistakes:


    1. We’re vague – we email about a topic and end it with ‘Can we discuss?’ or ‘Let me know when you’re free to talk’, putting the onus on the recipient to suggest times and dates when you’re the one who wants the meeting.


    1. We ask for too much time – we rarely need an hour but that’s the default slot we tend to put in someone’s diary. And that can feel like an awful lot for a busy person.


    1. We make the call or meeting sound as appealing as my great aunt’s tofu bake (affectionately known amongst the family as ‘cheesy underlay’).


So what can we do instead to get busy people to accept our meeting/call requests? Well, try these simple tips:


    1. Offer 3 specific dates and times for your recipients to choose from. This ridiculously simple step has proved a gamechanger for many of my clients – it makes it much easier for someone to reply, quickly.


    1. Ask for a 15 min phone chat/meeting wherever possible. It’s probably all you need if you get organised and it’s much harder to say no to.


    1. Make it sound fun, interesting or useful. Answer ‘What’s in it for them?’, not just you. Is it a quick chat to share a couple of ideas they might like? Or maybe you’d like their ‘much-needed advice’ on something (remember, advice is a more compelling word than feedback – it appeals to the ego more).


Let me know how you get on! I’m off to find a new bank…

University of Cambridge