Monday, July 14, 2014

Netiquette for Scheduling Appointments - Via Netiquette IQ

On-line Netiquette for appointment scheduling and confirmation is an often overlooked part of mail etiquette. Below is an excerpt from my book, mentioned below.

Making appointments

        Email can greatly facilitate scheduling appointments, social meetings, online services, and many, many more personal, professional, and organizational activities. Often, the time saved in the planning, dissemination of information, and confirmation of events is significant. However, Netiquette can clearly suffer in many ways, sometime resulting in lost time, misunderstandings, and people waiting on the telephone, in front of a terminal, or at some location waiting for an event that was already moved or canceled.
        Amazingly, many people will not think twice about canceling an appointment at the last minute, perhaps with others en route to a place, sometimes without the option of turning back or not even having access to email. It is important to provide invitees as much notice as possible when there is a legitimate reason to postpone or cancel a meeting or event, especially if the invitee needs extended travel, expense, or time.
        Anyone who does postpone or cancel a meeting is changing another’s day, sometimes significantly. As such, all care should be given to ensure that an event has a high certainty of occurring. To ensure that people can also attend, as much as reasonable, provide as much lead time as possible. If an appointment is scheduled by regular conversation or telephone, an immediate confirmation should be sent via email. If most of the proposed attendees have access to calendaring, this works nicely in automating schedules, allowing for automated changes and cancellations, and for editing details such as location, agenda, conference call information, or online meeting particulars.
        It all too often occurs that invitations are sent out that abandon any attempt to accommodate all or as many invitees as possible. This can result in the snowball message, where even just a few invitees begin a stream of “reply to all” mail that can transpire for days, ultimately not coming to a resolution until after the first scheduled date! This results in even more snowball messages and, at times, the abandonment of an event altogether.
        Puzzlingly enough, many appointments and invitations are sent with only a single time and date offered, when it would be quite simple and save a great deal of traffic and overhead to propose several dates and times. When possible, follow the procedure of offering three different times on at least two separate days (e.g., Monday at 1:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. EST, or Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. EST). If multiple time zones are involved for conference calls or video presentations, state the specific zones of the invitees (i.e., 4:00 p.m. EST [1:00 p.m. PST]). Anyone who has entered a conference call only to be the only one left or who is far too early because of a time-zone misunderstanding readily understands the Netiquette of including time zones.
In addition to this blog, I have authored the premiere book on Netiquette, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email". You can view my profile, reviews of the book and content excerpts at:

 If you would like to listen to experts in all aspects of Netiquette and communication, try my radio show on BlogtalkRadio  and an online newsletter via have established Netiquette discussion groups with Linkedin and  Yahoo I am also a member of the International Business Etiquette and Protocol Group and Minding Manners among others. I regularly consult for the Gerson Lehrman Group, a worldwide network of subject matter experts and I have been contributing to the blogs Everything Email and emailmonday . My work has appeared in numerous publications and I have presented to groups such as The Breakfast Club of NJ Rider University and  PSG of Mercer County New Jersey.