Automate Meeting Planning

Use workflows to create prep checklists for meetings

With the current lockdown, I am having quite a few video conferences.  Before these meetings, there are a few steps I take to help make the meeting as productive as possible.  For example:

  • Verify calendar date, time and location
  • Review meeting attendees
  • Create a Meeting Note
  • Sync relevant documents to iPad
  • Sync OneNote notebook to iPad
  • Check teleconference software operability

Typically, I use Microsoft To-Do to help me with checklist.  That means I have to create each of these tasks before the meeting with enough lead time to avoid a last-minute rush.  To make this a little easier, I can use a workflow in Microsoft Power Automate that creates these tasks for upcoming meetings.

Microsoft Power Automate (formerly Flow) lets you create automated workflows, in particular between Microsoft Office apps.  In this case, I want to create a workflow that creates items in To-Do whenever a meeting appears on my calendar in Outlook.

To create the workflow, I go to my Office 365 site and use the ‘waffle’ in the top left corner to choose Power Automate.  In the left menu, I choose Create.

In this case, as of this writing, there is no template that includes To-Do. Therefore, we will have to create the workflow from Start from blank and then choose Automated flow.

In the next screen we give the flow a name and chose the flow’s trigger.  Search for ‘event’ and scroll down to When a new event is created.  The window changes to the flow editor, with the Outlook trigger at the top.  Within this first step (the trigger), choose which calendar we want to monitor.  Now we can tell Power Automate what we want it to do when triggered.

Click +New Step, which allows us to choose the action.  We want to use the Add a to-do action from Microsoft To-Do.  In the Subject field, enter our first item Verify meeting time and location. For Due Date, we are going to use a little math so that this happens the day before the meeting. Place the cursor in the Due Date field and click on Expression.  Now scroll down to Date and time and choose addDays. In the expression editor, place the cursor between the parentheses and click Dynamic content.  Since we want to start the task the day before the meeting, we add -1 to the expression and click OK. The resulting formula:

addDays(triggerBody()?['start'],-1)

Since we will have multiple meetings on our calendar, we will want to know which one we need to verify.  To do this, we enter the meeting subject line in the Body Content field.

We now click on Save  and then use the Flow Checker to find any obvious issues. If there are no problems, we can test the flow with a Test Event on the calendar we chose as the trigger.

That is the basics.  If you want to create items for everything on the prep list, you can add a new step to the workflow for each item.

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