If you're in a place with other people, take a minute right now and look around. Chances are good that you'll notice many of these people, maybe even most, are looking at their phones. In today’s society, it seems like we just don’t look up anymore.
Our phones have morphed from being simple instruments used to place phone calls into something which manages many aspects of our daily lives. So it isn’t surprising then that many people may ask, “is it ok to have my phone in a meeting?”
Here are a few tips and considerations about smart business usage of your mobile phone.
Focus on what is most important
When you're in a business meeting, you're most likely there for a purpose. Someone is giving you information or gathering information from you. There's a meeting objective and an agenda and, in short, there are important things happening. Those things deserve your full attention. Whether you're listening to one person speak or watching a slide presentation, it's important. Whether the meeting is three people or 300 people, it makes no difference. If a meeting was called, it is safe to assume you should give it your full attention.
If you bring your phone with you, make sure it doesn’t disrupt those around you. Keep the ringer on silent and just in case this fails, make sure your ringtone is professional. There's nothing more embarrassing than having a meeting interrupted by a ringtone containing vulgar and suggestive lyrics from the latest hit song. Don’t forget to also silence sounds for everything from text messages to app notifications. Random pings and bird chirps in a meeting are no better than full songs.
Sometimes life happens. Emergencies come up and you want to be on top of them. While taking a personal call during a meeting is frowned upon, accepting a call in a true emergency is alright. Make sure, however, that you have defined what constitutes an emergency and be certain that your co-workers will agree. The news that your best friend just got a new boyfriend or girlfriend is not an emergency. Your grandfather’s heart attack, however, is an emergency.
Many people assume that simply turning their phone to vibrate is sufficient for a meeting. However, vibrating phones make almost as much noise as phones ringing at a regular volume. Especially when your phone is on a hard surface, you can guarantee the entire room will hear it. Switching it to full silent mode is best.
It may be tempting to assume that, as long as you aren’t talking on the phone, quietly browsing the internet is not a problem. However, internet browsing and social media usage during a meeting is just as rude and distracting. Internet usage should follow the same principles as phone usage during a meeting - if it isn’t urgent, don’t do it.
While we shouldn’t allow the ubiquitous smartphones to become a distraction in meetings, we should remember to take advantage of their multi-functionality. Most phones these days are equipped with apps which can record sound, which can be useful for later remembering the meeting’s key points. There are also apps for calendars, calculators, converters and so much more. If using the phone is relevant to the meeting’s purpose then take advantage of it!