August 19, 2009

Good Meeting Behavior

Good Meeting Behavior

I've been in meetings with large groups of people at big companies where they're all on laptops the whole meeting, no one makes any eye contact with the speaker/facilitator, and it's hard to get a pulse out of the group as a result.

I almost entirely stopped bringing laptops and smartphones into business meetings a few years back.  There's nothing I find more irritating than when other people are using them when it's my meeting.  Even if they're taking notes, I never know if they're really taking notes or sneaking a peek at email.  And in my experience, people who are on laptops and phones in meetings, whatever they're doing on those devices and however good they are at multi-tasking, aren't paying as close attention to the meeting as the other people in the room. 

What I do instead is take notes on paper and spend 2 minutes after the meeting handling whatever data entry I need to handle on my computer.

I was very excited to see Brad's post about how he is now going to take paper notes in Board meetings rather than use his smartphone and be tempted to check email (and otherwise be distracted).  Everyone should do this for every meeting.  Board meetings are important examples, but they're not alone.  It's just good meeting behavior.  If you have other things to do, step out of the meeting and do them.

3 responses to “Good Meeting Behavior”

  1. I completely and totally agree w/ this. When laptops started making it into meetings – especially at larger companies – attentiveness to the issues being discussed plunged.

    While it may seem efficient time management, it's actually anything but. Especially when you end up dragging out decision making via email for days – because you missed a chance to reach a final decision in the face-to-face meeting due to people being distracted and not focused.

    Paper note taking – in the long run – is more efficient. And you could always use a Livescribe pen if you're addicted to gadgets –

  2. George Bilbreey says:

    I find that taking notes on laptops is distracting. Something about the typing makes is harder for me to pay attention to what is being said than if I take hand written notes.

    Might just be poor typing skills.

  3. A.J. Pape says:

    For meetings that are either large groups, idea generation, or decision-making where there are strong emotions about the alternatives, it can be good to have one person scribe on a laptop connected to a projector so everyone can see group output and decisions.