[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.
Check out the leading email signature managers for Microsoft 365 and Exchange Server.
21 thoughts on “How to effectively schedule a meeting with the Microsoft FindTime add-in in Outlook?”
Is there a way to make the poll blind, so that the invitees do not see who else is polling?
I am conducting confidential interviews of roughly 30 people and need to schedule them into slots. I tried putting their email addresses in a BCC line in Outlook, but FindTime doesn’t seem to support that.
What you’re trying to achieve requires sending individual invites. You should try using tools like Microsoft Bookings or Calendly to ensure anonymity among the invitees.
@Kamil thank you, but pointing to the tech doc page does not help, when trying to figure out how to force a meeting time (ie not all people have voted). when it is this situation, there is no schedule option, it just says “New Meeting”, which is not what you want to do. You have to remove the person from the meeting to gain consensus, and then book, which is not helpful..
How does the poll let me know the best date. It doesn’t really give that answer in the poll other than me looking at each individual attendee’s response.
With the default options, it will send out invitations automatically, once the best time slot is chosen. And if, for example, not everyone answers, you can use the voting page to see which times suit the most. Learn more
If two persons can not attend, and others can, how to force select one meeting from all the offered options?
You can use the voting page for that. Learn more
How can I send a poll from someone else’s calendar while using my email? Is there a delegate access function?
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there’s no delegate access function.
How can I as admin of the poll vote on behalf of someone (e.g. if I received their availability by mail)?
According to this page, the organizer has an option to vote for another person on the voting page.
Is there a way to include an agenda in the “FindTime” meeting poll? When I try to type an agenda in prior to sending the poll request, the agenda is not including in the initial poll distribution nor it is included in the final meeting once consensus is reached. It would be beneficial to know how to include the agenda so it does not have to be included later. This can also apply to attachments you want the team to see prior to joining the meeting. Thank you.
If you type the agenda before sending the meeting poll, it should be there, just below the Invitation created with FindTime button.
When it comes to the agenda in the final meeting invitation, you could upvote the feature request on this UserVoice page:
How do you handle meetings across timezones when you want to find a availible meeting time that fits inside the working hours of respective timezone?
If it’s within the same organization, both the Outlook’s scheduling assitant and FindTime should include availability. If not – you can use another kind of tool – a meeting scheduler.
Can I change the title before FindTime will automatically plan the meeting? Because now the meeting has the title ‘You are invited to a meeting’ but of course this has to be a more specific title about the subject we are going to discuss in this meeting. I have to change the title manually now and send another updated invite with the correct title.
As long as you add the meeting title before clicking the Add to email button, the final meeting should have the title you’ve specified. I’ve just verified it in Outlook on the Web. And the meeting description is attached to the FindTime invite.
I’m not sure what might be the reason if doesn’t work this way in your case.
How do I confirm a meeting time if not all recipients have selected their preferred time slot?
The best option would be to ping the recipients who haven’t selected their preferred time slot. If that doesn’t work, instead of autoscheduling, you can click Schedule on the voting page to schedule the meeting for any suitable time.
what is 2 people did not answer the vote ?
You might see this notification if some of recipients haven’t chosen any option suggested by FindTime.
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