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A meeting cannot be friend with a notebook or a phone

This is a topic that I want to approach in more detail in the near future, but for now I only want to talk about one thing: Notebooks, Tables and Phones in a meeting.
When you take part in a meeting means that you are interested about the topic. This means that you already allocated the time for it! During the meeting you are involved in discussion as an active or passive player, but you follow the meeting discussion.
In many situations I saw people that are only with their body in the meeting, chatting on notebook or phone with somebody else, responding to emails or working on other tasks. From time to time, this people only put a stupid question during the meeting or say something that was already discussed and clarified.
What we should do? This is a good question and you need to have a ‘political’/green approach.
First of all you need to share with people the guidelines of a meeting and try to make them to understand that you only add value to a meeting only if you focused on the topic that is discussed. Otherwise is only wasted time on both sides (your time and attendee’s time).
When you are in a meeting I recommend the following things to do:
  • Close the notebook lid - The notebook can be open, but when you have the lid closed, you will not be disturbed by the other tasks. Also for the other participants it will be easier for them to communicate with you – they will know that you are there, with them.
  • Put the phone ring on mute - Personally I deactivated the vibration because on some surfaces vibration can create more noise than the normal ring.
  • Don’t check your mail during the meeting - In that moment you’ll miss the focus. If you need to do this, propose a 5 minutes brake when all attendees can check their mails and so on.
  • Take a 5-10 minutes brake if the meeting takes more than 1 hour - In this way people will know that they will have dedicated time for this 'problems' (mail, phone and so on).
  • If you have urgent matters (for example an escalation), leave the meeting. If you remain in the meeting you will bother the other attendees (anyway, you will lose the discussion thread).
  • When you are in an online meeting, close the mail client and Facebook page.
What else would you do?


  1. Most people come with laptops in a meeting with the excuse that they use it to take notes or to quickly find information using it when needed.. :)

    So yes, the above guidelines are good, but telling them to somebody else (especially somebody outside the team, like clients etc.) might sound .. offensive.


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