When reading advice on how to run effective meetings, there is one tip that often comes up: “Ban electronic devices”. Sometimes, they’ll say “gadgets” or “distractions” instead of devices, but the idea stays the same.
Reflecting on this piece of advice, one thing appears clear to me: the problem isn’t the device. The problem is you.
How is it that we can handle working ~7 hours a day on a computer, but can’t be trusted with a smartphone in a meeting room? What’s more is that mobile devices are actually useful during meetings.
Mobile devices are an extension of ourselves
I’m not going to go all transhumanist on you, but still… If used correctly, devices can be a big boost to your efficiency and productivity. Chances are you agree with this general statement. So why should it be any different during meetings?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of actually writing things down. Doodling, as well, benefits your attention and creativity in a meeting. But bringing a mobile device to the meeting room doesn’t cancel that, it comes on top of it.
When it comes to team-wide information sharing, nothing beats digital format. You and your teammates will forget stuff. It’s natural. Devices won’t. Also, your own notes won’t be the same as the next person’s. So centralizing information shared in a meeting leads to a clearer plan of action.
So what would happen if instead of banning devices in meetings, we embraced using them? In so doing, we’d open ourselves to leveraging tools for increased productivity. With this belief, we’re building Solid as a support for your meetings.
Decision making is one of the reasons we have meetings in the first place. If technology can help us, why negate it?
Focusing on the meeting with device in hand
Sure, mobile devices can be a source of distraction. Some people receive push notifications constantly, from professional and personal sources alike. Sometimes, even I would get distracted during a meeting… by someone else’s phone blinking with notifications all the time. Yet I believe it’s up to us to course-correct our relationship with technology and improve our capacity to focus. Some simple rules can help you get there:
- Schedule a break when meetings last over an hour. Then people can use the time for emails, phone calls, social media and what not.
- Keep push notifications to a minimum. Or put the “do not disturb” mode on your phone while in a meeting.
- Practice mindfulness. Don’t let yourself drift into auto-pilot mode when checking your phone or laptop. That’s where you’d end up checking notifications and get distracted from the meeting.
Ultimately, no rule will be stronger than your personal drive. The only way to stay focused is to willingly get better at it. In this case, small steps go a long way.
If you’re ready to leverage your electronic devices during your meetings, check out Solid, the simple solution for productive meetings. What are you doing to make the most of your devices during meetings? Do you manage to stay focused? We’d love to know your experience, share it in the comments.