You need to earn device-free meetings! | Yabbu | Cancel the meeting
Christian Zierleyn

It is not surprising that the technological revolution of our time has caused a counter-revolution. Now that everyone seems to be glued to their devices, it has become clear that digital does not always mean that we are more productive. That’s why digital detox is promoted to increase focus. When it comes to meeting culture, we see more and more device-free meetings. And we think that is an excellent trend!

The reason for having device-free meetings is that we strive for full focus, deep discussions, and maximum participation. It is unacceptable when people are distracted by smartphones and, for example, type an e-mail or chat message on their tablet or laptop during a meeting. So how is it possible that we at Yabbu, promoters of a digital solution, appreciate this new trend? Shouldn’t we promote tech-driven meetings? The answer is that we do, but maybe not as you would expect.

The reason is that we see a meeting as a process that starts well before the physical meeting. If the meeting is device-free, it does not mean that the preparatory phase must also be device-free. It will be much easier to have a device-free meeting if you ensure a good start.

Good preparation takes time. And especially processing time. Give the owner of an agenda item the opportunity to motivate what he or she wants to achieve with the point. Give participants time to inform themselves about requested decisions, read attached documents and organize thoughts. And also give them the opportunity to express arguments and views in advance. This way you can come to the essence much faster during the meeting and you prevent people from dropping out mentally and doing other things. Read more about this in our previous blog Sleep on it.

You can try to force a device-free meeting by forbidding devices on the table. However, we believe that you should earn a device-free meeting by making the meeting attractive to all participants. As said, the essence is a good preparation. If you want to do that the right way, think about the desired outcome(s), who you need for that, give people the time to prepare themselves, and create a structure in advance in which participants can already participate in to their best ability. If you manage to ensure that people leave the meeting room with more energy than they come in, then it is a sure bet that your meeting will automatically become device-free.

We understand the discussion about device-free meetings. For us that is not a black-and-white discussion, because we see the meeting as a process. Unmistakably, tools and devices have an important role in the run-up to a meeting or videoconference. Use those resources to make people appreciate those short, bright and fun device-free meetings even more.

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