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What is Doodle and how does it work: an introduction

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What is Doodle?

Doodle is an online scheduling tool that can be used quickly and easily to find a date and time to meet with multiple people.  First you suggest dates and times for your event participants to choose from, then Doodle creates a polling calendar that can be sent to participants for feedback.  As each participant selects the dates and times from the polling calendar that he or she is free, Doodle aggregates the responses and tells you which option works best for everyone.
 
Getting everyone on the same page is hard enough with just five other coworkers, let alone fifty new volunteers you may have never met.  Doodle can be a valuable tool for coordinating a large event like volunteer training as well as a small event like a monthly meeting with the board.

 

Doodle in Action

Part of Doodle’s appeal is that it’s so easy to use.  The site walks you through the three steps of creating a polling calendar:
 
  1. What's the occasion?
  2. What are the options?
  3. Tell your participants who you are

Each step of the way there are options to make the whole process easier for you and the people you’re trying to meet with.
 
1. Schedule an Event
The first step in scheduling an event with Doodle is to fill out a simple form with the title, location, and description of the event.  This information will be visible on the poll, letting participants know exactly what the event is.  
 
Notable Features:
 
  • Easy Directions: The location automatically links to Google Maps, making getting directions a breeze.
  • Your Own Doodle Account: Although you are free to use the site without creating an account, signing in makes checking up on your scheduling polls a lot easier (especially if you have several out at a time).

2. Propose Times and Settings
The next screen asks you to choose days and times that you are considering for the event.
 
 
Notable Features:
 
  • Time-Zone Support: If you’re scheduling an online event, such as a Twitter chat or a video conference, Doodle automatically enables time-zone support to keep participants across the country or across the world on the same page. If you remove time-zone support all of your participants will see the same time options, regardless of where they're located.
Settings
In the second step, you'll notice the settings button at the bottom of the page. Doodle offers some options so that you can modify the basic poll to suit your specific needs.  These customizable settings allow you to tailor your Doodle scheduling poll to each event.  Among other things, you can use these different settings to transform your scheduling poll into a registration sheet, or to offer extra options to your event participants such as greater privacy.
 
  • Yes-No-Ifneedbe Poll: In a basic poll, the people you invite can only respond “Yes” or “No.”  This option adds a third possible response, “If need be,” to give you more detailed information on participants’ availability and flexibility.
  • Hidden Poll: Perhaps you are looking to schedule times to meet with donors.  This option allows you to keep each donor’s schedule and availability confidential from the other donors.
  • Limit Number of Participants per Option: For example, setting the group limit to ten people per time slot would be handy if you are looking to conduct feedback meetings with past volunteers.  Once a timeslot has ten names, it will stop being shown as an option.
  • Participant Can Only Choose One Option: This option coupled with limiting the number of participants per option turns the poll into a registration sheet, allowing each participant to sign up for a timeslot on a first-come-first-served basis.
3. Tell your participants who you are
On this page you will also enter your name as administrator and your e-mail address so that you can receive the link to view, update, or edit the poll. If you already have a Doodle account, we'll keep track of the poll in your dashboard.


 
The Poll
For the people you have invited, the finished basic poll will look something like this:
 
 
The people that you invite will enter their name or an ID number in the field that says “Your name” and check the boxes in the time slots when they are free.  If your participants are logged into their account their name will be filled in automatically. In the image above, the best time to meet would clearly be Saturday the 18th.
 
Notable Features:
 
  • Load Your Calendar: If you open a free Doodle account, you can sync your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendar to Doodle.  This lets you avoid switching between calendars, making it easier to respond quickly to scheduling requests.
  • Comments: There is even a comment section at the bottom of the poll where participants can note dates that they would prefer over others or ask questions about the event.
  • Different Viewing Options: The image shown above is the table view, which allows your participants to see which dates and times are popular.  There’s also an option to look at the schedule on a calendar view, shown below.  The calendar view is helpful if you have loaded your own calendar to Doodle for comparison.
 
Sending invitations
The final step is to send out the invitations.  Doodle has two different methods of sharing your poll with others. First you can copy the participation link and send it from your own email or Facebook etc. You also have the option to add email addresses and send your invitations directly from Doodle.

For smaller or internal meetings, email is the way to go.  But if you are putting together a larger event, like a cookout to thank your volunteers, then a social media platform might be a better choice.  By posting the Doodle poll link on Facebook or Twitter, you can simultaneously advertise your event and find a good day for it.
 

This is a guest post by Michelle Lindblom, a former Communications Associate at Wired Impact. Michelle has just finished her B.A. in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology and English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis and she's looking forward to a career of combining the powers of language with an understanding of the mind.
Read the original post on Wired Impact's blog: http://wiredimpact.com/blog/doodle-easy-online-scheduling/

 

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