What do you think about the effect of using technology devices in meetings? To varying degrees almost all of us use technology devices in meetings! Being a technologist myself, unlike a carpenter who has no furniture in the house, I confess my sin of overly using technology devices in meetings: laptop, mobile handset and sometimes the tablet. But I know it is not the best approach to meetings and professionalism.
Some of my bosses imposed an outright ban on use of devices in the meetings and in those scenarios I obliged. Now, I have imposed the ban on my own because I strongly believe that using devices in meetings in very unproductive. Of course, I knew this all along but it has taken me a bit of time to sensibly translate that into an appropriate decision and stand point. And now, as a matter of compensation or as arrears, I am propagating this principle to recruit many to also adopt this best practice—hopefully this will be timely for many!
I have decided to completely stop using devices in meetings, except where the devices are being used as tools for the core purpose of running the meetings – not because I want to attend to e-mails or respond to messages on the mobile phone and so forth. This has been necessitated by the realisation that using technology devices in meetings greatly attenuates the quality of my participation in meetings. If conducted effectively, meetings are of great use and impact. Therefore, I must pay serious attention to meetings. One basic fundamental principle in this pursuit is to ensure that I have 100 percent participation in the meetings from the start all the way to the very end.
Research has shown that human beings are not designed for multi-tasking in general. This means that by default, we are not capable of using devices and at the same time following and participating in the meetings at the optimal level. No matter how much we pretend, in the end, it shows to the observant person that we are not really in the meeting the moment we use devices. In fact, if you are to be very honest, and objective, you will agree that at all the moments when you tried to follow a meeting while using some technology device, your participation in the meeting was greatly retarded!
It is common sense that we do get frustrated when we are seriously following the meeting and we find others busy using the technology devices for motives beyond the scope of the meetings and for actions that exclude the rest of the meeting attendants. That is exactly the feeling that others have towards us when we use the technology devices and they are observing. Usually, it helps to imagine what others think based on what we experience or think in the same situation being in their role. What is more important is to make decisions based on the authentic realisation of what a reasonable person would do!
Research has shown that we are incapable of making meaningful contributions to a meeting when we are busy on a phone or laptop. We get distracted. Therefore, we need to do the meaningful thing— stop using technology devices in meetings! In fact, researchers have discovered that we fail to follow the deliberations clearly— and we also fail to make meaningful contributions to the meetings. This means that we have two major reasons for avoiding usage of technology devices in the meetings. After the meetings, we have all the time to attend to the missed calls, the pending messages, waiting e-mails and so on. Let them wait for us to be free. In any case, we will attend to those actions better when outside the meetings because we will then have full attention for them. Divided attention is not the best regime at all!
As a summary: avoid using devices in meetings. If you are the chair, clearly ban the use of devices in the meetings. If you are a member of the committee that is meeting up, try to abide by this important principle! Good luck! n