Technology turned many of the work meetings into a long, time consuming, and inefficient waste of time.
Everyone is staring at their laptops doing "something" while someone is speaking. Then the speaker turns over the speaking slot to someone else so that he (the first speaker) can return to his personal activities.
Every once in a while someone receives the speaking slot unexpectedly… this can create funny sentences (completely irrelevant, or very relevant – but to the topic discussed 20 minutes before…). Bright people can sometimes come up with a meaningful reply after quickly processing the words they heard in the background into something that makes sense.
You cannot fight this horrible culture.
Trying to shut down the laptops will just make it worse; it will bring… the smartphones(!).
The smartphones are a deadlier version of the laptops because typing is harder, thus requiring more concentration. That means less concentration in the meeting. Not to mention the option to play games during the meetings… (Seinfeld made a perfect demonstration of it a while ago)
In hi-tech companies the situation is even worse; hi-tech people like talking, arguing. They do not listen for one half of the meeting, and then, waste the second half arguing.
Hi-tech people also like to raise too many… alternatives… (scary word).
Having too many alternatives is never helpful. In most cases, having more than 2-3 alternatives will not change the final decision, but it will create doubts. Too many alternatives will make you feel unsecure about your decision… (exactly like searching too long after the perfect electronic device, or the perfect girl… ).
And then there are those things I call: "garbage time".
It’s like in sports games, when the winner is already set, but you need to keep on playing until the time ends… it’s the same with meetings: knowing that you still have 10 minutes till the end of the meeting will make you use them, for talking, arguing, or just raising more alternatives…
There are plenty of techniques and apps to efficiently manage your meetings; setting the right time, creating an agenda, placing the agenda in the meeting invite so people can come prepared, having a tough moderator that prevents useless threads, setting timeouts for discussions, etc.
Here’s an app that addresses this problem a bit differently. It’s called Meeting Miser:
Imagine you sit in a meeting and the "garbage time" begins.
You can then open your iPad and start Meeting Miser; the app will calculate how much money is wasted in every minute that passes by, motivating the attendees to end the meeting faster. Brilliant!
"Meeting Miser is an iPad app that lets you track how much your business meetings cost you. Enter the estimated total annual salary of everyone in the meeting and watch as the dollars tick by!
Put your iPad where everyone can see it and keep your meeting focused!"
More details about Meeting Miser for iPad in here
Originally written for the mobile spoon.