We have a love-hate relationship with technology – especially with our cell phones. There are distinct benefits of remaining connected to our clients, bosses, teams, and even to our families during long work days. Yet, the constant notifications, calls, vibrations, and flashes from incoming text messages are distractions that impact our productivity.

Every few months we hear a story about a company, or an individual executive, making the conscious decision to ban cell phones from meetings. Their intention is to keep everyone focused so that meetings can be more productive. But does banning cell phones from business meetings work? Is doing so even the right solution?

According to recent research, we stare at our phones for at least two hours out of each day. The pressure to keep up with business and personal demands, respond to messages expeditiously, and to “get it all done” in a typical 10-hour work day is intense. The temptation to work on tasks from your phone while in a meeting may seem like a good use of time, but study after study shows that multitasking lowers productivity and has a negative impact on attention span.

Are cell phones the real problem in business meetings?

When you need your attendees to listen and make decisions during your meetings, but you suspect they are overly focused on text and email messages, banning cell phones and related devices may seem like a reasonable option. Studies have demonstrated that people are more engaged in a group without cell phones present, but technology itself might not be the main problem. Commanding the attention of your audience starts with effective communication. In other words, are YOU actually the problem?

Making Your Meetings Work

Effective communication – the ability to connect with your audience, get your message across, and have them retain and act upon the information exchanged – is crucial. The reality is that attention spans are short, with or without cell phones. If your message isn’t connecting with your audience, your meeting either lacks purpose or you’ve invited the wrong people. If your communication is poor, removing technology will only remove a distraction; it won’t create engagement.

Having a successful meeting starts by making the meeting less painful:

  • Make sure the meeting is necessary
  • Only invite the people who need to be there
  • Keep it focused

Maybe fewer meetings, each with a higher level of purpose, is a better idea.

Would you ban cell phones in your meetings? Take the poll below:

Please elaborate on your response to the poll in the comments below!

To increase the productivity of business meetings, cell phones should be banned from meetings:

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