scheduling tools and processes

Photo credit: rmlowe

If you're a fan of the Engaging Missions Online Radio Show, you know that I have a new guest every week. While I enjoy meeting and talking with missionaries, this also means that I have some work to do – and I'm not just talking about recording, editing, and publishing.

No, before I can do that, I have to actually connect with missionaries and schedule the interviews.If you've never tried to set up meetings with people on the other side of the world, I can tell you that it's a little challenging.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm glad to do it. But I've learned some things along the way that might just help you the next time you need to book an interview or a meeting.

Kinds of Interview I've booked

At the time I'm writing this, I've recorded and published:

  • 14 Skype interviews across the miles
  • 4 in-person interviews, recorded in my home
  • 1 in-person interview recorded at Sound Paradigm Studio

In order to be able to do this, I've had to do a few things. And I'll tell you about those in a minute.

These didn't surprise me

I wasn't surprised that I needed to learn and grow. I wasn't surprised by the things that I needed to do. But I was surprised by how quickly I needed to have systems and tools in place.

And, on a shoestring budget.

Over the next few days I'll be sharing more about this. But for now I just want you to know the two key things I needed to have in place right from the beginning. Whether you're booking regular interviews for a podcast like mine or setting up meetings with clients and colleagues, these two things will set you up for success.

The Right Processes

I walked into this with my eyes wide open. I knew from the start that I would need to have a strong process in place so that I could book and record all the interviews. Not to mention editing and publishing, which is beyond the scope of this article.

When I first started, I didn't really know how I was going to manage contacting and scheduling all of my interviews. I just knew that I needed to figure it out. At first, it was pretty clunky. I started emailing people and hoping I didn't lose track of who I'd contacted.

After a while I was able to get a stronger understanding of the different things I would need to do and to organize them into a logical flow.

  • Contact people to ask if they wanted to be interviewed
  • Provide information so they could decide
  • Follow up to make sure nothing fell through the cracks
  • Actually schedule the interviews
  • More follow-up and information
  • Ask for referrals

Of course, that's a pretty high-level view of it. There are more details that we'll get to later. But the point is that, while I'm working full-time, involved in church, raising a family, and doing this, I had to have some processes to help support me.

As I started developing those processes, though, I got into the second thing I knew I would need.

The Right Tools

Now, when I say “The Right Tools” you might think I'm talking about $200 per month (or more) for Infusionsoft or something like that. But I can be honest, that kind of expenditure would break a new show like mine in a matter of days. So I'm actually talking about tools that I can use for free or very inexpensively.

I needed something to:

  • Manage communication
  • Keep track of where I was
  • Schedule interviews
  • Actually do the interviews

In addition to all this, I had one more requirement. I don't always have access to my home computer so the solutions that I selected needed to be available from multiple computers. And I needed to have everything in sync regardless of what computer (or other device) I was working on.

Now, I want to be clear that in my case I'm not talking about totally free. For example, I paid for Ecamm's Call Recorder for Mac so that I could record interviews. But if you're setting up meetings that you don't need to record, that's an expense you don't need to pay.

I also paid for a Skype phone number so that I can interview people who don't have reliable high-speed internet access but do have a phone. In fact, that's what I used to record Sean Steckbeck's interview.

Money Doesn't Have to be a Barrier

The point, though, is that even if money is a challenge, there are ways to develop the right processes and find the right tools for what you're trying to do. Often for free. But not always.

For me, money was a strong consideration. My agreement with my wife is that I won't keep pouring personal money into this – it needs to be self-supporting. So I have to watch my pennies. Carefully.

I'd be lying if I said that finances didn't significantly shape the choices I made when I selected the tools I'm using. There are some functions I'd love to have and some of it is more manual than I'd like. Actually, I'd love to have a fully integrated system that handles everything. But for now, what I have is meeting my needs.

Maybe it'll meet yours too.

That's all for now. Next time I'll be telling you more about the tools I use because they support the processes I've developed. Please take a minute to think about and respond to the question below.

Question: What is one thing in your life, business, or ministry that would be faster or easier with the right tools or process?

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