Devices in Meetings

emailThe superintendent checks his emails under the table.  As if we can’t all see that. Now others doing the same thing.

Before devices:

Participant says (out loud) “Excuse me, Bill, I think we are getting a bit off topic here. I’d like to suggest that we redirect our focus back to XYZ and have this discussion later.”

After devices:

Participant says (to self) “That Bill can’t stay on topic.  I think I’ll check my email.”

I’ve heard the argument that devices are needed for taking notes, putting to do’s into your calendar and pulling up relevant documents.

Just designate a note-taker who will perform these actions for the group.  I hear you ask “but what about meetings that are specifically for wordsmithing a document?”

Project the document onto the wall and (again) have one person record the changes as participants suggest their edits.

I look forward to the day when the work culture demands that participants place all devices on a side table.  Let’s see that behavior start at the top.

2 comments on “Devices in Meetings

  1. derekm8201
    July 2, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Respectfully, I disagree with the assessment of the root cause. Devices in themselves don’t cause bad behavior, it’s the people using them. Behavior is the real issue that needs to be addressed (or effectively modeled.)

    The use of specific software tools (and associated devices) can create workplace efficiencies not previously possible. Tools like WebEx can be used to effectively pass the presenter role between participants without the need to disconnect/reconnect to a projector, move places within a room, or transfer files around to the “presenter” computer.

    Much of today’s content is designed for consumption on a device. Meetings about the content seem like they should take this into account. There’s nothing quite like Google Apps with real-time, multiple user editing. It’s a very powerful thing to have a room full of creative thinking occurring and not being hamstrung by the speed of a single person’s ability to type and record the ideas that flow around the table.

    With the effective use of the tools now available, it seems the style of meetings is changing. No longer is it one of a single presenter with a projector going through a deck of slides, but more like a working session with the ability for any participant to easily become the presenter.

    But, back to the original issue, adult behavior. I suspect the same participant would need to be called out for being off topic regardless of the devices that are or are not accessible. Just because there’s devices, why did we lose the ability to call out a participant for being off topic?

    • Fiscalshare
      July 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I have been in numerous trainings where some of the busy participants are not on board with the need for their presence and participation. It does seem too simplistic to blame their off task activities on the device.

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