Aerial view of a business team having a meeting on a table to represent Outlook's scheduling poll

How to automatically arrange meetings with Scheduling Poll

This article was produced by Eliot Cole.

There are a few ways to use the Scheduling Poll, but here’s a quick guide on how to set up a meeting that arranges itself.

Note: Remember to use your ‘Book With Me’ links for One-To-One meetings, as that is even less hassle for you and your potential meeting participants:

Using Scheduling Poll To Automatically Arrange The Meeting

What follows is a four step guide to setting up a meeting that will then arrange itself.

An animated image of someone composing an email and selecting the menu option to create a 'Scheduling Poll' to manage a meeting organisation.
Eliot is clearly caught in a scheduling loop – ED


1. Ready Your Email

An image from Outlook Online where the user has made an email with recipients in both fields and taps the 'Scheduling poll' option.
Ready the email, and tap ‘Scheduling poll’

First of all, ensure that you’ve opened and have started a new email.

Now, ensure that your address fields are mapped out as follows:

To = Required attendees

Cc = Optional attendees

Then tap the top right three dot menu in your email and tap ‘Scheduling poll’ which will bring up the next step.

2. Select Times

An image of the next screen which details options for the 'Time Zone', 'Duration', 'Meeting hours', and 'Date' settings of the poll.
‘Time Zone’ – ‘Duration’ – ‘Meeting hours’ – ‘Date’

Now you’ll see options for:

  • ‘Time Zone’
  • ‘Duration’
  • ‘Meeting hours’
  • ‘Date’

You will also see a list of meeting times presented, just select all the ones that you want to use for this meeting.

An image of the poll setup screen highlighting the tentative nature of one attendee
More meeting times

You should also see that it shows your internal colleagues’ availability. This is so that you can easily select meeting times that suit internal attendees, and present options to external attendees that all internal staff can attend without bothering them about it.

3. Scheduling Poll Options and Completion

An image showing the options that you can apply to a poll. This one obviously ensures that the 'Schedule when attendees reach consensus' option is enabled. It also has the 'Require attendees to verify their identity' option enabled for work purposes.
Control how it works

In order to have Scheduling Poll automatically set up the meeting then you need to ensure that (as above) on this screen you select the ‘Schedule when attendees reach consensus’ option.

Additionally, to secure this for work, I recommend ensuring that the ‘Require attendees to verify their identity’ option is enabled. This will lean on Microsoft identity protocols to manage that.

You can optionally have the service pre-book the slots for you, I do not recommend this as it could fill up calendars needlessly. However this will ensure that (where possible) all potential slots should stay available with all potential attendees. This choice is for you, really.

Finally, just tap the ‘Create poll’ to finish making the poll.

An image showing the final screen that says it is ready to be shared!
Last screen

This inserts a nice button and box in your email, and you are ready to send your email. 

4. Sending and Checking Up On Voting

An image showing the current status of voting, in this case no-one other than the organiser has voted.
Checking up on the votes

You’ll have noticed that ‘View poll details’ button at the end of the creation screens.

If you tap that you’ll be taken to the above screen to both vote on the poll yourself and see the status of others votes. You can also reach this screen from your polls list.

Things You Need To Know For Automated Meeting Scheduling

There’s a few things you should be aware of when making an automatic meeting:

  • ‘To’ = ‘Required’ attendee
  • ‘Cc’ = ‘Optional’ attendee
  • The meeting will create immediately once all ‘Required’ attendees have voted
  • Optional voters cannot vote once the meeting has been arranged
  • The time is decided on the earliest fully agreed time and date
  • Where voters indicate times they ‘Prefer’ (see next image) the earliest, with the most votes, is selected

What Do The Results Look Like?

When all is said and done what does this all look like?

An image showing a received email in Outlook Online, which shows the 'Scheduling poll' box in the email with a 'Vote' button for the recipient to tap to vote on the poll.
Received email ‘Scheduling poll’ box and ‘Vote’ button

An image showing what the voting screen looks like for a recipient. This one shows that the user has selected a date where they have tapped the 'Prefer' button indicating their preference on the date to use.
Voting from a recipient’s point of view

Well, the above images show you what a received email looks like above, and what the recipient’s voting screen could look like.

An image showing the email that the creator receives that shows what the consensus meeting times produced. This details the Time Zone, the Date and Time, and Duration.
Final Result!

Finally, once all the votes are in you’ll get the above mail. Note how it picked the time that had the most preferred votes.

That’s all she wrote! Good luck, and happy meeting hunting to all!

Eliot is a MS365 engineer here at Influential. He is our resident Microsoft expert and is a technical superstar.