7 Tech Gaffes at Meetings

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 17:06 PM

By Samuel Greengard

On a scale of undesirable activities, most of us rank meetings only slightly above food poisoning and paying taxes. Yet meetings are essential, and they can prove highly productive--if they are managed well and technology is incorporated effectively. Here are some of the biggest gaffes managers make:

1. Everyone's plugged in. Why would any manager allow the use of personal devices at meetings? The distraction level goes off the charts amid a cacophony of chimes, buzzes, ringtones and "I'll get back to you" murmurs. Shut off the phones and you might actually accomplish something!

2. No rules about devices. If you require laptops or tablets at meetings, make sure you have policies and rules about how they are used. No checking emails or IMing. Use should be limited to taking notes or looking up pertinent information.

3. PowerPoint hell. PowerPoint is a great program, but, seriously, everything doesn't have to go into a slide deck. Too many presentations are banal, lame or entirely pointless. ZZZZZ.

4. Inadequate preparation. With the Internet, robust databases and powerful analytics, there's no excuse for walking into a meeting unprepared. Managers should establish an agenda and insist that attendees treat the meeting like work--not a holiday from daily tasks. Keep in mind that a lack of information up front begets additional meetings.

5. Eschewing virtual meetings. In-person meetings are often essential, but they come at a cost: They require considerable time, energy and resources. Virtual meeting spaces and video conferencing unleash a more dynamic exchange and allow those who are out of the office, including free-agent talent, to participate.

6. Relying too heavily on virtual meetings. On the other hand, trying to handle everything with virtual meetings and video conferencing is a bit like trying to design a house using an Etch-a-Sketch. Too many valuable nuances are lost, and you wind up with a sum that is actually less than the individual parts.

7. Not following through. Every meeting should result in a summary, action items or to-do list. And it's critical to distribute this information to attendees after a meeting. Technology obviously makes that possible.