[Update]: This article was first published on April 24, 2020. It was updated to include changes and additional features introduced to FindTime since then.
Trying to find the right meeting time that suits all required attendees is not a piece of cake. Especially when every user has many different duties during a work day. So, if you feel like you’re sacrificing too much time for scheduling a meeting, you might benefit from the Microsoft add-in for Outlook called FindTime. This add-in is intended to help you efficiently find the optimal time to meet with all invitees. Let’s see how this timesaver works.
Microsoft announced that FindTime is being replaced by Scheduling Poll. Scheduling Poll is supposed to have similar set of features and should replace the FindTime add-in automatically in all supported email clients (Outlook on the web, Outlook for Mac and Outlook for Windows). FindTime should disappear from Outlook Add-Ins store in May 2023.
What is FindTime
FindTime is a Microsoft add-in that you can install in Outlook and then use to create a meeting poll. The poll helps you find the best time for a meeting, so that all required people can attend it. This saves a lot of time and unnecessary emailing.
How to find time that suits them all
The thing is that setting up a meeting can be frustrating if you need to coordinate it for many people that have different schedules. If you had a chance to be a meeting organizer at least once, then you know what I‘m talking about. So let’s see how FindTime can help you minimize the stress and reduce the time necessary to successfully schedule the meeting.
Note: Before you start, make sure you have installed the FindTime add-in in your Outlook. You can download it from the FindTime official website, deploy directly in Outlook by using the Get Add-ins button on the Home tab, or you can find it on Microsoft AppSource. Learn more about your installation options.
So, to find time with this add-in, you need to:
- Create a new email in Outlook, add attendees in To and Cc fields, and click New Meeting Poll.
- Now, the FindTime poll opens. Set it up by selecting the meeting duration, time zone, date and hours. Click Next when the poll is ready.
Note: The colors show who and when is available, may be busy or is busy. This way you can easily select times where all attendees are green, which means they are available for a meeting. What’s more, FindTime will include availability across different time zones as long as the attendees are within the same organization.
For example, in the screenshot below, all required attendees are available between 8:30 and 9:30 (all are green). At 8:00 one of the attendees may be busy (purple) and at 10:00 I am busy (red). So, as an organizer, I know that in my meeting poll I should propose these hours: 8:30, 9:00 and 9:30.
Feel free to sort the view by Availability (all hours when everyone is free go to the top of the list, while other hours land at the bottom) and Time (it displays all hours chronologically). Use the calendar and user icons on the right to see more details.
- In the next step, provide the meeting location. If you want it to be an online meeting and your organization uses Microsoft Teams, you can select the Teams meeting checkbox. Take a final look at the poll and if it’s ready, click Add to email.
Note: In this step, you can also configure additional poll settings:
- Notify me about poll updates – when turned on, you will receive an email each time an attendee votes. The message will contain the current vote status and an option to schedule the meeting manually (e.g., when not all attendees have selected their preferred time slot or the majority agrees to a specific hour).
- Schedule when attendees reach consensus – an event will be automatically scheduled if all required attendees have voted in favor of a specific time option. If there is a tie between two or more options, the earliest option will be scheduled. If you turn this option off, you will be able to schedule the meeting manually from the FindTime organizer dashboard / relevant voting page. That’s also where you can edit the meeting invite details (e.g., change the meeting title, provide a description/agenda, attach documents).
- Hold selected times on my calendar – a tentative event will be placed on your calendar for each time option you propose. All holds will be removed once a poll is scheduled or cancelled.
- Lock poll for attendees – attendees will not be able to suggest new times or edit other attendees.
- Email notifications in FindTime language – related email notifications will be sent in the language you use in FindTime. If turned off, the emails will be sent in English.
- Require attendees to verify their identity – enable this option to force authentication preventing anonymous voting.
- Send the poll to all attendees, so that they can select the time that suits them best.
- Once all invited users select the time, the add-in will send out the meeting invitations on your behalf. That is, unless you deactivate the default option for scheduling meetings when attendees reach consensus. In such case, go to the FindTime organizer dashboard / relevant voting page to set up the event manually
Note: FindTime is available for Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, Outlook on the web and Outlook for Mac. The add-in requires Office 365 work or school account to run, but only if you are the meeting organizer. People who don’t organize the meeting but only receive the meeting poll don’t need to have Office 365 subscription or FindTime add-in installed.
Use FindTime with Microsoft Teams
If you are using Microsoft Teams for online meetings in your organization, then you can easily use FindTime for scheduling purposes. You just need to select the Teams meeting checkbox when creating the FindTime poll.
Then, once you and your invitees find the optimal time, the add-in sends out the invitation with a link to join the meeting in Teams.
That’s all. Now with that extra time you saved, you can focus on more productive tasks.
Deploy the add-in for all users
If you want all users in your organization to have this add-in in their Outlook, you can tell your Office 365 admin to install FindTime globally in the organization. You will find the instructions on how to do so here.
Adding email signatures to meeting polls
FindTime can be very helpful when it comes to organizing meetings with many participants. When you are adding a meeting poll, it is crucial to include your email signature as well, for quite a few reasons.
- Professional email signatures show your attention to detail. A well-formatted email signature gives you additional marketing opportunities and helps build your brand.
- Because of increased number of phishing attempts, many recipients will be alarmed by links in your messages. A standardized and fully branded email signature adds credibility to your messages.
- If your contact details are up to date, your recipients will be able to use other channels to contact you, should they have additional questions about the meeting.
The only way to make sure your signatures are always up to date and equally professional, regardless of email clients and devices from which your business emails are sent, is to use an email signature management tool.