Minimizing Cell Phone Use in Meetings a Good Call

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I started my first day here at Chartwell Agency on May 1 with a Monday morning staff meeting as one of my first to-do items. I was excited to interact with my new coworkers in the same space and start learning the day-to-day routine of our organization.

With coffee mug and notebook in hand, I took my seat in the conference room. I also had my phone with me. Then I looked around, slightly horrified that no one else in the room had a phone.

Had I broken a cardinal rule on my first day? I quickly learned that we leave our phones out of staff meetings, unless we are expecting a call from a client or, of course, a necessary call from a family member or loved one.

That seems like a simple concept, but how many times have you sat through a meeting where at least one person is heads-down on his or her phone the entire time, not paying attention at all? I know many of us think we can multi-task, but can we really multi-task that well? And is it fair to the meeting organizer that attendees are (at least partially) tuning out the information being presented?

My new job lesson came to mind this week upon reading that July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Nearly all Americans (95 percent) own a cell phone, and 77 percent of them own smartphones – up from 35 percent from 2011, according to the Pew Research Center.

So, we must make accommodations for cell phones in our personal lives and in the business world. Here are some simple ways to make mobile technology use easier to deal with at the office.

Silence is golden. Don’t be that one person at the event or in a meeting whose cell phone rings. Put your phone on silent or vibrate mode so you don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation or presentation. The “do not disturb” option is even better so your purse or pocket isn’t vibrating, leading others to wonder whose phone is making noise.

Leave them behind. Take a tip from us at Chartwell and leave the phones out of staff/internal meetings unless they are necessary. Dare I say that doing so actually makes the meeting go faster and makes us more productive? I have noticed that I am more present when I don’t have the temptation of a phone around.

Keep track. Just for fun, keep track of how many times you look at your phone during the day. An analysis by Deloitte said we look at our phones about 47 times a day, and the number rises for people between the ages of 18 to 24. Think of how much more efficient we could be if we reduced that number of daily checks. Factor in also how much time we spend checking emails and responding to phone calls, and you see how easy it is to get distracted from a project and how the day ends without feeling like you have accomplished anything. Knowledge is power, and knowing how many times you actually check your phone might encourage you to improve your focus.

Chartwell’s strategic facilitation and training services can help your company improve its internal communications and overall efficiency. Give us a call – as soon as your meeting is over.

-Melissa Westphal, Communications Strategist

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