Lead to Energize By: Banning Laptops and iPhones from Meetings

Have you ever considered banning technology from meetings?

We’ve all experienced it. You’re in a meeting, you identify what you believe is an IT glitch, and ask for input from the VP of IT. He looks up from his laptop and says: “Can you repeat the question?”

Or, a colleague looks up from their phone and brings up an issue that the team came to a decision on 20 minutes ago.

It’s frustrating, it’s disrespectful, and it wastes time!!!

Kathryn Vasel, in a CNN.com article, posed an important question: “Should laptops and phones be banned from meetings?”

In the article she stated: “Some companies are eliminating the distraction altogether, by banning technology in meetings. No laptops. No cell phones. Just face time.”

Additionally, she quotes Adrian Ward, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas:Just the presence of a smartphone is a distraction…The process of tuning it out sucks up our cognitive resources to try and pay attention to something else. We learn better without technology.”

As a leader, it’s your job to facilitate meetings well and to intervene in disruptive meeting behavior. Facilitating meetings well includes supporting the development of stronger relationships, managing time spent in meetings, and creating meaningful outcomes, so, determining which option (allowing or banning technology from meetings) is best for your team is important.

Pros and Cons of Banning Technology from Meetings

There are Pros and Cons to banning technology from meetings. Some of the Pros for leaders banning technology from meetings are:

Better Team Member Relationships

  • When team members aren’t concentrating on electronics, meeting participants who talk in meetings feel more respected and heard, deepening the rapport between team members.
  • Teams build stronger and more productive relationships when they pay attention to each other in meetings, and part of the positive impact of having team meetings is that the relationships built in meetings carry over into day-to-day interactions.

Better Communication Between Team Members

  • If people are listening more closely the quality of the communication improves, participants are more present and engaged, and they are better able to observe nonverbal communication.
  • Technology such as laptops and iPhones distract us from truly listening to our teammates.

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Banning Technology from Meetings Saves Time And Meetings are More Productive

  • Meetings without electronics are often more productive, therefore shorter, ultimately saving valuable time.
  • Participants are able to focus on the topic at hand, which speeds up communication.
  • Participants who are listening more closely should not have to have information repeated as often, which saves time.
  • Participants who are focusing on the meeting agenda are better able to help the meeting move along faster.

Better Ideas Are Generated in Meetings Where Technology is Banned

  • When participants’ focus is not divided, they are better able to formulate meaningful opinions on the topic at hand.
  • The quality of ideas expressed increases when more attention is paid to (the) meeting topic(s).
  • The number of ideas brainstormed increases because there is full attention from participants and participants are able to build off each other’s ideas.

However, many leaders allow electronics in meetings because there are Cons to banning technology from meetings. If a leader bans electronics, meeting participants are unable, or less able to:

Efficiently Document Action Items And Decisions in Meetings

  • Type meeting notes in real time.

Get Other Work Done During Meetings

  • Respond to urgent emails.
  • Work when meeting topics don’t apply to them.

Access Information to Support the Meeting

  • Call a customer, vendor, or staff member for information needed.
  • Use a calculator or Excel to do calculations.
  • Look at a calendar for scheduling tasks, scheduling meetings, and planning.
  • Access documents that are needed in a meeting on an impromptu basis.

There are also many Pros and Cons to banning technology from meetings. However, I believe that people being able to multi-task is a myth. Ask yourself this:

Which option would you choose if your goal were to “Lead to Energize” your team? Would you allow technology in meetings or ban technology from meetings?

I believe, from the perspective of energizing your team, that the answer is BANNING technology from meetings.

So, Leaders, I challenge you to “Lead to Energize” by banning technology from meetings.

Be the Leader you’ve always wanted to be!