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Thursday October 23rd 2014

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What day is that job?

What day is that job?

I had traveled across the country to deliver a workshop for a company that was facing a tough challenge: their business focus was shifting and the team was resistant.

I had arranged with a colleague in the area to work with me to lead exercises designed to reveal personal stories of the team members’ first encounter with the company.

I did not hear from my colleague on the day of the workshop, so I picked up my cell phone and called her. What happened next was a lesson in contracts and communication.

“Today,” she said incredulously? “No, it’s tomorrow.”

That went on for about 30 seconds before I asked if she could change her plans and come today. No, she couldn’t. So I lead the exercises without her.

This misunderstanding has happened for other meetings and events. It’s not as rare as you may think.

One company told me that the event coordinator for an off-site day-long session called in the morning to ask where the training team was … only to find out that it was on the calendar for the following day. The company was able to rally trainers from their sleep and get them to the site in time to deliver the training, but it was a scramble.

A Simple Fix

Here’s a simple fix that will eliminate the possibility of this ever happening to you.

When you write about the event in the contract and emails, always put the day of the week along with the calendar date.

A confirmation email would say, “You and I are scheduled to review the training session on Monday, August 16th.”

By including the day of the week, you double your chances that all parties will be on the same page. It provides two anchors, day and date.

Some lessons can only be taught by experience. I hope you have lots of both.

About: william:
William Hall is an actor, trainer and improviser living in San Francisco, CA. He works with companies to engage and involve audiences at Trade Shows, Conferences and Training Sessions. He is a founder of BATS Improv and the author of The Playbook: Improv Games for Performers.

Reader Feedback

8 Responses to “What day is that job?”

  1. Ken Newman says:

    No matter how organized you may think you are, something like this is bound to happen.

    This simple, intelligent advice will reduce the chances dramatically.

    Thanks, William

  2. Another tip, I learned from my lovely wife. The day before the engagement, call the person and confirm. That way you have a person-to-person connection. Emails are plentiful and we read them cursorily at times. In our heads we see “blah,blah,blah, next week.” But on the phone you can say, “So we’ll see you tomorrow around 11:00 A.M., Right?” “Right.” “Great. See you then.”

  3. Ed Alter says:

    I learned this lesson the hard way and now always include the complete date, time and written day of the week in my appointment confirmations.

    I have an client that always sends me a calendar event (.ics) when we’ve scheduled a meeting time. If I delete it or move the date, he gets an email alert. Cool!

    Thanks for your thoughtful insights William!

    – Ed

  4. chris says:

    It reminds me that coordinating the details of an engagement are at least as important as the content one expects to deliver. Funny, I think I’ve still had a client miss the date even with date AND the day of the week spelled out. Still though, it’s a useful tip.

  5. David Booth says:

    Great advice, William, and easily overlooked. For our private client sessions, I always email at least four days preceding the session with, as you suggest, the day of the week and date. I even say “this Monday, or next Tuesday” to make it crystal clear. And I ask for confirmation. You can’t be too careful.

  6. I concur with everyone who wrote in to support you. The day of the week always needs to be next to the date (you wouldn’t believe how often people accidentally write the wrong date), and an email the day before is essential. I also will pick up the phone if I haven’t received an email. Sometimes you are dumped into spam the party didn’t receive (or overlooked)it.

    When you come from a production background, these are lessons learned the hard way. Thanks for reminding all of us how to avoid them!

  7. Rich Cox says:

    Great advise William! Thanks for sharing it.

    With more access and syncing to calendars and time management philosophies it seems that I am dealing with more and more dates all the time. Those simple 1-off mistakes are a challenge.

    I know that I never am bothered by a simple reminder when someone is meeting with me. Its an easy way to keep in touch with a countdown email or two.

    Also a nice idea to list the number both ways. This might be the number one(1) {top} idea of them all.

  8. Gene Mahn says:

    Being in the financial services business for more than 40 years has taught me, often the hard way, that confirming appointments in mandatory.

    I am to the point now of confirming appointments the day before via email and by phone. If the person with whom I have my appointment is not in I will leave the message that unless I receive a confirmation of my confirmation by either voice or email, I will call for another appointment rather than hoping original appointment will be kept.

    It is rare that I don’t receive a confirming message.

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