04 March 2008

Does technology kill meeting productivity?

I just read an article at EffectiveMeetings.com about how technology can often limit (or even kill) meeting productivity as we spend all of our time playing around with our PDAs, cell phones and PowerPoint. I guess you've all tried sitting in one of the meetings where everybody turns completely apathetic and stare blankly at one slide after another as they're crammed with data and the presenter just isn't capable of rising above the noise that he or she has created through their presentation...

Personally, though, I really do believe that mobile phones are the real bane of meetings. Some years ago I did quite a bit of consultancy work in Greece and the meetings were always the biggest waste of time imaginable. A meeting that ought to last about 60 minutes to do a status update, discuss key issues and make decisions could easily extend to four, five or even SIX(!) hours. This was due to the fact that the managers never arrived on time - sometimes showing up 1 1/2 hours after the meeting was due to begin and they would then invariable answer any incoming phone calls and step outside. This happened even when what we were discussing was the direct responsibility of the person taking the call. He would just ask his no. 2 to run things while he was away. He would then return and the no. 2 would get a call and stepped outside to take it. However, they just wanted to continue the discussions so by the time the no. 2 came back in the room neither he nor his boss had a full picture of anything and were therefore completely paralysed when it came to making the decisions - or, even worse, they would make them based on incomplete information!

Have a look at the article and think about how you use technology in meetings next time.

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