Is technology ruining meetings?
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Managing input.

Dogs like to mark their territory. It defines the box they are supposed to be in as pack animals. Technology doesn’t follow that simple rule. Technology evolves and changes making the previous territory no longer relevant.

Does the intrusion of technology into meetings cause disruption? There are a lot of people that believe blogs (tweets and texts as well) are modifying the English Language in a bad way. Is taking technology into a meeting modifying the very concept of face to face meetings as well?

It is one thing to have a pad of paper and take notes. Things that are relevant and important can be noted and shared. It is another thing if you are asked to produce notes after the meeting so that everyone is on-line and inline.

But walk into a meeting room with a bunch of computers in front of the people you are talking to and just for a moment consider the energy in the room. It is deflated compared to a room where at least in the beginning people are engaged.

What do you gain if your day is so busy you can’t leave your computer in your office? What is the value of a meeting you can’t attend but show up and sit in the room with your laptop? I understand the reality of time constraints. Back to Back to Back meetings make your day really difficult. One runs long and your schedule is shot the rest of the day.

But if you aren’t there to engage why are you there? If you have to put your computer down for a moment to interact with the people in the meeting perhaps you should decline the meeting and finish the other work you have.

Is technology ruining meetings?

In my book “Transitional Services” I published a series of what I called communications patterns and anti-patterns. Many of them were focused on the patterns and anti-patterns that create problems for people running meetings.

Add a bunch of laptops to the room, take the energy down an additional level and what happens? When you think of communication patterns they are about engagement and energy. If you suck energy out of a meeting, the patterns don’t emerge as quickly. You end up with more of the anti-pattern behavior.

I worry about this. I may worry about this one too much. It is about the choices we make in the world around us and the behaviors we model for others in the end. Meetings need energy to build and support a lively and interactive environment. If you are hiding behind your laptop it is hard to tell if you are engaged.

Unless you follow-up the meeting with a great set of typewritten notes.

By the way in the age of typewriters WE NEVER TOOK NOTES WITH TYPEWRITERS DURING THE MEETING because as the all caps indicate they ere so freaking loud it was disruptive.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

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