Weapons of Mass Distraction

English: HCCH 4F Meeting Room

English: HCCH 4F Meeting Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this guest blog post, Neil Colquhoun, business sales director, Epson UK, writes about how CIOs and IT managers can improve meeting room etiquette

You know the feeling. You’ve been in the same chair for the past two hours, looking at the same faces and being shown slide after slide of bullet points. I’m sure I’m not alone in the desire for shorter, more productive meetings…

In a recent survey we ran nearly half of office workers admitted to using a tablet, laptop or smartphone for non-work-related purposes during meetings. Alongside this, 68% are distracted when others use tablets, smartphones or laptops during meetings and 16% blame technology failure for wasted time in meetings. I can understand the power a smartphone can hold in the middle of a dull meeting.

  • One of the most impactful steps could be to suggest that management ban mobile technology in meetings for all but urgent phone-interruptions or minute taking. This might sound controversial but it’s rare that an email will arrive that couldn’t wait 30 minutes to be addressed – after all, only a minority of office workers are involved in life-and-death situations…
  • Second, make your meeting room technology fool-proof: Whilst projection and AV technology is hardly rocket science, I’ve seen many a poor soul try and fail to clone their display while others sit expectantly waiting for the meeting to begin. Nor do people necessarily realise the 3.5mm audio jack should go in the headphones socket of their laptop. That’s why I think every IT manager should provide framed and laminated step-by-step guidelines to save time wasted in the meeting through staff trying and failing to get their presentations fired up.
  • Finally, don’t give people an excuse for cancelling: Scheduling everyone’s time can be a challenge in itself, and so I’m a big fan of Doodle.com, which allows participants to vote on their preferred time for a meeting. This saves employees from trying to work multiple calendars around each other. It also works wonders for arranging a stag night with a group of disorganised mates.

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