I recently posted questions about meeting pet peeves in LinkedIn Groups and Q&A. The top concerns included:
- delays due to latecomers
- the absence of agendas
- disruptions due to text messaging and phone calls
Today, for business meetings 411, we'll focus on minimizing mobile device disruptions.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Before implementing mobile device management strategies, ensure that you have the support of the most senior executives or directors in attendance. If you don't, they will likely to undermine efforts to modify the use of mobile devices.
It is also important to get buy-in from the group. (Be careful. Some of the same people complaining about mobile device disruptions are referring to what other attendees do. The may resent efforts to curb their own mobile device use.) It should never appear that the facilitator or event planner is just being controlling. Use employee attitude surveys, pre-conference surveys and participant profiles before team building or sales rallies to identify desired meeting improvements. Cvent Survey Blog has some excellent tips for conducting surveys and Cvent Web Survey Software can facilitate the data collection process.
Mobile Device Management Tips
- Determine which mobile device management strategies senior management will support.
- Use pre-meeting emails and text messages to alert participants to the new meeting mobile management strategies. If you don't, you are likely to face resistance.
- Designate a lounge or place a few chairs outside the meeting room so that participants can pop out and take urgent calls without disrupting the meeting.
- Provide a supervised mobile device check-in and charging station to give participants an incentive for "checking" their cell phones and tablets at the beginning of a meeting. (See photo at top of the page.) Tag each device and give participants a mobile check ticket to collect devices.
- Alternatively, place a multi-device charge, color coded box or plastic container with a lid in the center of each table. Participants may be fine with coat and bag checks but they are likely to resent a central mobile device check.
- Give the most senior member of the team in attendance the opportunity to share the data collected identifying the group's concerns about disruptions due to mobile devices and to describe the new approach.
- Ask participants to turn mobile devices off and place them in the box.
- Ask participants who are expecting urgent calls to set their devices to vibrate and place them face down at the center of the table just beyond arms reach so that they aren't constantly checking them.
- Ask participants to turn off their devices and place them in the box once urgent calls have been received.
- If disruptions continue to be a problem, have an area at each side of the room to which the boxes can be moved.
Integrating Mobile Devices into Meetings
When the portion of the meeting for which you want to minimize mobile device use is over, find a way to integrate mobile devices into your meeting. For team building, have an exercise or game that requires the use of Twitter, Pinterest or Foursquare. For brainstorming or problem solving, give participants opportunities to use the Internet to uncover new ideas and find best practices.
When management effectively, mobile devices can enhance your meeting, training session or conference. The key is to find constructive approaches to incorporating technology and strategies for taking devices off-line during periods when they are likely to be disruptive.
Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International