Devices in Meetings

Oct 23, 2018

I’ve been in the business world for a long time. For the first half of that time, no one brought computers into business meetings. And having your mobile phone out during a meeting was considered rude. Of course now, all that is commonplace. Especially since using a laptop or even a smartphone for note taking is so normal.

But I sometimes wonder whether going back to “the old days” wouldn’t make sense. This recent article lists many of the objections I still hold to allowing devices in meetings:

To add a thought to that article, I still feel that using a tablet ink capability for notetaking in a meeting is a good compromise. Something about writing notes with one hand seems to leave enough awareness open for full meeting participation. In contrast, typing with two hands with a screen in your face does not. But that just might be me.

What is your opinion on this?


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5 Responses to Devices in Meetings

  1. Roger Jones says:

    Agree mostly, there needs to be a new protocol however, a lot depends on the big boss to set the tone. Here’s a few suggestions:
    – no laptops unless required for a presentation or essential data.
    – all mobiles switched off unless critical for attendee eg relative with medical problem.
    – bucket of water in which transgressors’ mobiles may be placed.
    – where possible, have standing meetings.

  2. Mike says:

    It depends on the participants and and how many are in the room. If its a large meeting, you are much more apt to have people off multitasking. Or, if there are people in the meeting that don’t have a role in everything being discussed. Generally, I’ve not had a lot of situations where people blatantly abuse their devices in face to face meetings. That said, I have way more meetings that are remote now and in that situation you have no control over what people are using. You are using the devices to hold the meeting, and nothing prevents multitasking since no one can see what others are doing.

    I do agree with the benefits of a tablet. I moved to a Surface Pro a while back and really like being able to take written notes in a meeting.

  3. Kristen says:

    I bring my phone but my watch/fitness band buzzes with a preview when I get a phone call or text message, so I keep my phone face down unless there’s an urgent need to pick it up. My biggest frustration is people who don’t keep their ringers off while in a meeting. I’ve got one manager whose phone is always on loudly and even his managers don’t ask him to turn it down or off – if everyone kept those settings it would be a cacophony! Although we do get held up sometimes when the big boss running the meeting is distracted by his phone, the larger timesuck is watching the person type on the big screen rather than just taking notes quickly … it’s invariably type-type-backspace-type-type-format-cut-paste … the meeting time would be cut in half if we didn’t feel the need to broadcast a screen constantly and only used it for sharing as opposed to on-the-fly notetaking and document updating.

    If I ever have the fortune to be a manager I will require all phones on vibrate, call out any subordinate looking and swiping for more than 30 seconds, and no laptops unless it’s clearly designated as a “working meeting”.

  4. Alex says:

    I believe the use / non-use of digital tools during the meeting depends on the objective of the meeting. Are we talking about a routine team or project status meeting? Then yes, the PC might be an essential tool for many to take notes, refer to documents, or to present. In most of these meetings, not all attendees are required to be focussed all the time, so “distraction” might be allowed to an extend.
    Different situation: the intent of the meeting is tapping input from each and every participant, devoid of any distraction. No PC and Smartphone allowed, just the brain, experience and common sense. What is underestimated in this situation is the burden it lays on the organizer of the meeting. Ten people in the room, keep them engaged at all times to make most of their time. That is hard hard work in prep and excution.

  5. Tor says:

    For digital notetaking, try out the Remarkable. Works really well for me.

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