Telling Tales: At your next meeting, leave your technology at the door--and be "present"

Earlier this week I was reminded of how dangerous technology can be.

The setting was your typical company board room. The participants:mid-to-senior company executives, including the President of thecompany. The format: PowerPoint presentations from each participant,reporting on a variety of topics.

Competing for everyone's attention: Blackberrys, IPhones, laptops, emails, text-messages and Google.

The behavior is ubiquitous--nearly everyone around the room tapping away at their computers during a meeting, and picking up their smartphones to check email and text messages, sporatically during the discussion.

And in this case, who was the spiritual leader of this multitasking culture? The President of the company himself--checking email, reviewing documents, and previewing other presentations while others were speaking.

This behavior has been infiltrating corporate meetings for years, but this week's client meeting reminded me how prevalent multitasking is in today's corporate environment--and how dangerous it is to productivity.

Many organizations encourage the use of laptops and smartphones during meetings. They seem to think it increases overall productivity--if you can be doing one, two or three things at once.

Unfortunately, using laptops and smartphones during meetings is causing a lack of focus, and reducing the producivity of everyone involved.

As a society, we spend so much money and time helping cure those with ADD/ADHD--a biological, brain based condition characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. But at the same time we're encouraging it in the corporate meeting room.

So what does this multitasking do that's so dangerous?

It stops us from being present.

Being present creates a focused, and healthy conversation. It eliminates misunderstandings, and encourages people to really listen and contribute.

Whenever I walk into a client meeting, I keep my laptop closed, and my iPhone hidden in my briefcase.

I encourage you to do the same at your next meeting.

I promise you, the feeling of being "present" as if for the first time, will be invigorating.

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