The iPhone Method of Better Meetings

I’m not a huge fan of people checking their email during meetings, but I have to admit to doing it or worse. However, there are two sides to the smartphone inattention problem during meetings: people’s OCD or lack of etiquette and the lack of value or engagement of the meeting presentation.

I propose two solutions:

For small/serial meetings, the smartphone should never be responded to inside the meeting room. Ask those who use their phone in the meeting room to leave the meeting for 5 minutes on the first offense and expel the person from the meeting on the second offense. The lack of engagement of the distracted person wastes everyone’s time, including that of the person who is absorbed in the phone. This also serves to remove non-contributors from meetings and gets the attention of those who actually need to contribute.

For larger meetings, the minute more than 1/3rd of the audience pulls out their smartphones, that should be a two minute warning to end the presentation. If that many people aren’t paying attention, what’s the point of continuing the presentation to that audience? Either the audience is a bad fit or the presentation is.

Some really good insight into why we all hate powerpoint…

Renegade HR:  The Folly of Powerpoint

I truly think that bad and misused PowerPoint is a symptom of a bigger problem:  either lack of intrinsic understanding of what you’re talking about or lack of writing skills.  Maybe you even have both problems.

The same goes for long-winded white papers.  At least in the case of the white paper, the individual circumstances of your audience are an unknown, so the lack of understanding on at least one side is understandable.  Ultimately, however, if you are defining what the problem is and how to solve it, you should have the depth of understanding to break down your message into very simple terms.

Which brings me back to PowerPoint:  If you are presenting on a topic in which you don’t have a strong enough understanding of the topic to put less than 100 words [YIKES!] on each slide, you probably shouldn’t be presenting on the topic.

Every one of the four tips mentioned in the post (tell stories, stop using bullets, stop using words, go naked) only works if you have enough understanding of your topic to let go of your slide show.

Otherwise, you’re just reading aloud the big print version of a research paper.