The best tools to help you find and book your Meetings

While not so much of a problem between one or two people, when you are trying to arrange meetings or conf calls between a larger number of people (especially cross company), the process can be quite a frustrating and laborious process with lots of back and forth emails checking people availability. Unless you are lucky enough to have a PA!

#Microsoft has a couple of simple, yet powerful tools, tucked away in Office 365 to help, yet I’m often amazed how many people simply don’t know that these tools exist… So, this blog is aimed these people… Trust me. It will make your work life just that little bit easier.

There are two services I’m going to cover here: –

  • FindTime
  • [my personal favourite]

Microsoft FindTime

FindTime is an Azure powered Outlook add-in that makes it much easier to find the right time most convenient time for a group of people to meet. As I said, this is one of the most under-appreciated (and unknown) part of Office 365 / Outlook and it’s an absolute godsend if you book lots of meetings.

The basic problem with meeting scheduling is that everyone involved in a meeting has different availability and whilst intra-company you may be able to see colleague calendars, across company this is not easily achieved. This means that for a meeting with all parties to be arranged successfully a common free or preferred time must be found.

How FindTime works

Microsoft FindTime does this by coordinating communication between meeting participants by essentially “polling” each attendee to find their acceptable time from a set of choices the organiser chooses. As attendees vote or decline times, they see in real time others preferred timing for the meeting.

Once an agreed time is found, FindTime creates the meeting on behalf of the organiser. That’s it.

FindTime is simple and easy to understand and use (if the plug in is installed). The FindTime Outlook add-in works for Office (ProPlus), Outlook (Web) , and Outlook for Mac but is only needed by the actual organiser. Attendees who respond/vote to the FindTime polls don’t need the add-in.

Creating a New FindTime Poll

To create a new meeting poll, the organiser simply needs to either create a new message or select an existing message.

Within the email, The To: recipients are your required attendees while those on the Cc: list are optional.

From here, you click the Findtime button on the toolbar and then simply select some time slots for your meeting (see below).

The suggested time slots are organised by availability or time. Availability shows who’s free for a selected slot, but this depends on FindTime being able to access the free/busy time of the attendees. If your (or your attendees) Office 365 tenant doesn’t make free/busy time available to other tenants, FindTime won’t be able to consume this data when it initially checks availability so will be reliant on the attendee’s choice/preference only

Every Meeting a Teams Meeting

FindTime can create an online meeting with Teams (or Skype for Business Online).

As the organiser, once you’ve defined your preferred times, you simply insert the poll into the message and send the email as normal. In the background this then creates the poll in the FindTime Azure service to prepare for responses.

Responding to FindTime

People invited to the FindTime poll receive the poll in their email.

To respond, the user clicks on the poll which takes them to a voting page on which of the proposed time slots are acceptable.

Attendees then submit their preferred “choices” to FindTime, which collates the responses and settles on the best available time.

As people vote, the meeting organiser gets updates via email.

Reaching Consensus

Once each participant has voted and the organiser has picked the best time, the FindTime service auto schedules the meeting (assuming the required participants have reached a consensus on a time). If participants agree on multiple slots, FindTime selects the earliest available time.

If an agreed time cannot be found, the meeting is not automatically scheduled and the meeting organiser can update the proposed time slots to try and find one that suits. Alternatively, the organiser can go ahead with their preferred time and accept that some people can’t attend.

For more information, please head over to the FindTime FAQ.

Note. If this is your first time using FindTime, I recommend you check (and set) you default time as FindTime seems to like to default to US Pacific Time Zone. To check and set your default time zone, you need to go to and access your account settings.

Calendar.Help (aka Office 365 Scheduler)

In my option, this takes meeting scheduling to a whole new level and will soon be an integral part of Office 365 and Cortana – if it ever gets released in GA!

Calendar.Help leverages Cortana as the point of interaction and uses a combination of your Outlook Free/Busy and artificial intelligence processing to book meetings that work for everyone without the need for plug-ins etc.

The way Calendar.Help works is that you simply include in your email to set up meetings. Cortana uses natural language processing and interprets your request in the meeting to find the best time.

Here’s how works

As you can see from the email below, you simply send Cortana an email asking her to book a meeting for you.

Once Cortana has the request and is processing it, the organiser receives a confirmation email from Cortana. If “she” needs more information, Cortana will email the organiser to ask for clarification

Cortana then does her thing and liaises with the attendees to agree a time that works through a combination of asking and checking diaries in the attendees Exchange diary. Once attendees have responded and/or a suitable time has been found, Cortana books the meeting for you.

The meeting invite is sent based on your preferences and instructions.

Preferences and Settings

Out of the box, works well and there is a webpage where you can manage preferences in. This includes, blocking out lunch times, default meeting length, times to avoid and whether to always make the meeting an online meeting in Teams for example. You can also use the web-portal to initiate meetings and bookings or cancel pending requests, but you can also just ask Cortana to do this in the email.

One thing I find with however, is that sometimes, attendees respond directly to me and don’t include Cortana which means she is then out of the loop and unable to progress your meetings further…. this is kind of an end user education thing but can be a pain!

Would love to know how you find the service(s) described here – do you use them, do you find them useful, do you use some else?

PowerPoint Coach – come on – we all need this tool!

So, I have a couple of presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks and I have been dying to test out the #PowerPointCoach.

So before we head off for the weekend, I just wanted to make you all aware (if you weren’t) of this awesome new addition to PowerPoint if you haven’t seen or heard of it…

Introducing PowerPoint Coach

Training and feedback are vital in helping us confidence and improve our “public” speaking abilities. While we can self review, gain feedback from team mates or peers, Microsoft has gone a step further to help us using the power of AI….oooooooh AI…

Presenter Coach in PowerPoint does this listening and feedback for you (and you never have to worry about it drifting off as you rehearse). Presenter Coach lets you enter “rehearsal mode”, providing on-screen guidance for pacing, inclusive language, use of profanity, filler words (like “erm” and “actually”) and culturally insensitive phrases.

To test this out, head over to PowerPoint Online (not the desktop version), Open or create a presentation, then go to the “Slideshow” menu and click “Rehearse with Coach” Even works with “recorded slides”. 

It’s really great to see this in action after being announced earlier this year.

Of course one thing it cant do it tell you whether your presentations actually make any sense (well not yet anyway) – what is does it provides great feedback on your pace, flow and rythm…something i personally struggle with when I first kick off!  


have a good weekend all.


Microsoft has won the long awaited US JEDI contract worth $10B.

There will be some celebrations tonight a battle to win one of the biggest contracts in the cloud, #Microsoft has won the sought-after #JEDI cloud computing contract with the #Pentagon valued at as much as $10 billion over a decade, dealing a blow to the market leader, #Amazon \ #AWS which had been the front-runner.

What is J. E. D. I?

JEDI, Not related to Starwars in anyway, the 10-year contract for the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure, is aimed at making the US defence department more technologically agile. The US Department of Defense wants to replace its aging computer networks with a single cloud system.

Under the contract, Microsoft will provide artificial intelligence-based analysis and security as well as host secure and highly classified military secrets among other services.

The #Pentagon have said “JEDI continues our strategy of a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment as the department’s needs are diverse and cannot be met by any single supplier.”


Microsoft haven’t formerly commented as yet so expect to hear more when they do.. This is a collossal win for Microsoft and for any company with a deal of this size.

Did you know there’s a “Business” version of the SurfaceProX

With all the news and media about Surface Pro X, it’s easy to miss that Microsoft have also released a dedicated business version called… Well Surface Pro X for Business which has one core feature aimed at business rather the consumer.

What’s the Difference

On the surface (ok dad joke) the business version isn’t much different from the consumer version. It’s the same spec, same processor, same pen and battery etc, but where it differs is in its security, which is unique to the new Surface business line up in this latest generation.

The Surface Pro X for Business is what Microsoft are calling a “Secured-core PC.”

What’s a Secured-core PC?

In short, this new technology is powered by Windows Defender System Guard and protects the Surface Pro X from firmware hacking such as LoJax

With Secured-core, your organisation can now prevent hackers from tampering or altering with the UEFI (or BIOS) which in the future I think will be a pre req for IoT type devices as well as business decides of all types.

There are 3 levels of protection provided by Secured-Core which make the Surface Pro X ultra secure and essentially shields Windows 10 from attacks and unauthorised access which target the device before Windows has booted or during shutdown.

  • Firmware attacks
  • Kernel attacks and
  • System integrity attacks

Who’s Secured-core ideal for?

Microsoft claim that the target market are people that work in the most data-sensitive industries such as government, financial services, and healthcare but really this is suited to any organisation that ultra concerned with security.

Just Surface?

No… This is by no means limited to just Microsoft decides. Lenovo, Panasonic, Dynabook, Dell, HP etc are all behind this new approach

Find out more

  • Microsoft have published the following information about Secured-core here
  • Thurrot have published this information
  • Computing have this to say

What do you think about Secured-core? Needed? or Over kill?

Look was announced at the #SurfaceEvent 2019

Microsoft announced a lot of new and updated products today at the 2019 #SurfaceEvent.

Surface Laptop 3

Surface Pro 7

New… Surface Pro X (ipad competitor)

Surface Neo (foldable)

Surface Duo (a phone built with Google)

Surface war buds

This was a very quick summary…