I was facilitating a session earlier this week where the topic of technology came up. The conversation was about using technology in an effective way.
Every single person in the room had a smart phone but they were very comfortable with putting it down during our discussions and responding to emails during breaks. It was refreshing to see business professionals using technology tools the way they were designed.
Organizations need to realize there’s no going back. Technology has become firmly rooted into our business meetings. I think it’s unrealistic to think people are not going to bring their laptops, tablets and phones with them. It’s the norm.
However, as this group demonstrated, technology shouldn’t take over the meeting. Smartphones and texts should not be excuses to mentally or physically leave a meeting. When we bring our devices to a meeting it’s to help us be more efficient and productive, not interrupt the meeting. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years about technology during meetings:
- Manage the sound. One of the biggest annoyances, is the sound of a device beeping, ringing, etc. Especially if someone reminded everyone to check the sound on their devices. Unless it’s an emergency, most of the calls we get during meetings can wait until after it’s over. There’s no need to interrupt the meeting to take a call. If need be, you can tell a colleague prior to the meeting that you’ll be unavailable for the next hour and get back to them then.
- Sit near a door. If you are in the middle of an urgent situation – for example, someone is getting fired or an investigation is taking place – sit near the exit doors so you can participate but also make a quick exit if necessary. Also, it’s helpful to tell the other participants up front that you might have to step out of the room if a certain call comes so they don’t wonder when you leave. Especially if your exit coincides with a sensitive discussion.
- Share cords and cables. This is very handy during all-day meetings. Depending upon where the meeting is held, WiFi is still an unstable thing. Most days my iPhone will go all day without a charge. And then there are times at 11a I’m at 40%. WTH?! So I bring a multi-outlet charger with me. I can charge my devices and others can too! I’ve also discovered a multi-device charger called the Jackery Giant+. Great for those times when outlets are hard to find.
- Build in time for “phone check” breaks. I’m starting to build these into my training agendas and participants appreciate it. The purpose is just to respond to immediate issues – it’s not a substitute for office time. The breaks do not need to be lengthy. But they can be very handy during a two-hour meeting which might not justify a formal break but allows people to check in with their office.
- Take photos! It’s great to share what you’re working on. Taking team photos or pictures of flip charts can be fun and engaging. One reminder: make sure to ask first before taking and publishing photos of work products and people. Some participants might be fine with sharing some images and not others. Be sensitive to their wishes and ask first. Let them how you’re going to use the image.
How do you manage technology during meetings? Leave your tips in the comments!
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby1