c’mon, outlook, gimme a hug

My number one technology tip for meeting planners (truly, for anyone who works in an office)? Get to know Microsoft Office Suite really, really well. Honestly, you can save so much time on everyday business tasks simply by learning how to use this software to its fullest.

Personalized Emails
Do you need to send an email to a bunch of people, but want them all to feel like you wrote them a personal note? It’s a snap when you use the Mail Merge feature in Word and Excel or your Outlooks Contacts list. I use this feature to send confirmations for housing reservations I make on a rooming list, and to send e-receipts for discounted tickets we offer to attendees.

Automated Badge Runs
How about printing badges? Mail Merge to the rescue, again (please tell me you already knew this one)! This time, track registrants in any database management tool (you can even use a third party vendor, so long as they can export the list to a .csv file) and merge it with a badge template in Word. For small meetings, a badge template and a portable printer is a life-saving duo onsite.

Do you need to track assignments you’ve given to others in your office? Use the Tasks feature in Outlook – it lets you assign a task to another person in your company, and allows them to update you on their progress!

Team Meetings
How about scheduling internal meetings? Use Outlook’s calendar feature to schedule a meeting, and include the meeting’s agenda (and any other important documents) right there so everyone can come prepared to discuss the topics at issue, and you won’t have to search for the files you’ll need!

Calendar Organization
Outlook’s Calendar is a great scheduling tool. I’ve gone so far as to customize the Labels in the Calendar so that I can see at a glance whether the meetings I have scheduled are internal, external, require travel, include a meal, or are of a personal nature.

Meeting Space
If you’re in charge of your company’s meeting space, add an Outlook Calendar and Email account for each of the meeting rooms so employees can “book” the space when they schedule their meeting. Just invite the meeting room as a Resource, and Outlook does the rest! No more double-booked meeting space!

I could give you a hundred such examples of ways to make MS Office work for you. And, given enough time, I probably will. Let me know if you want step-by-step instructions for any of the above – I’ll post them separately for all to see…


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