A recent trend being discussed around the web is the concept of topless meetings. No, not what you are thinking. They are laptop(less) meetings where laptops, smart phones and other handheld distractions are prohibited. Living in the IT world they seem like a sacred right. We’re busy people who need to stay in touch with what is going on. Maybe you are missing the point of having a meeting. Or maybe you just missed an important point because you were distracted.
I have been in meetings where one-third of the room was either scrolling through email on their phone or had a laptop out. It seemed more like a down time break room than a meeting.
Sometimes I have seen it carried a too far. I have been in a few meetings where the person who scheduled the meeting was fully engaged in their laptop while “their” meeting was going on around them. Can you imagine the frustration of the people attending the meeting when the person who called the meeting is so disengaged from their own meeting?
You have a presentation at a 2 PM meeting. You have done all of your research and written out your agenda. Things get off to a good start, but then you become distracted by the number of people scrolling through their email while you talk. Is my presentation really this boring? Am I making a poor showing? Probably not. You are in a wired world without manners.
The two examples above are reasons why I think this new trend has merits. When you practice such behavior in a meeting aside from being rude, you give the impression of being disinterested. You should be making eye contact with the person speaking, not your screen. Each person speaking deserves the respect of your full attention.
Without such distractions people will be more engaged and focused on the meeting. I think you will find meetings to be more productive and end quicker. In the IT world I know people have the desire to be wired in to what is happening all of the time. Give yourself a break. Unplug yourself and tune in to the meeting.
On the topic of gadgets and meetings, never forget the golden rule. Put your phone on silent before the meeting starts! Oh the times I have seen people scramble to silence the hot new ring tone that tells a little too much about themselves. Followed by the glare of displeasure from upper management.