We live in an electronic age. If you expect your employees to come into a meeting without any electronic devices, you’re fooling yourself. Tablets, laptops, and even smartphones are all essential pieces of equipment in doing business in today’s world. But that leaves you with a conundrum: That technology is also a distraction, and can cause your attendees to get sidetracked by emails, text messages, etc. Even if the things they’re doing are business related, it can make your job as presenter very frustrating.

Many people’s gut reflex is to ban electronics from the meeting. But with wearables growing in popularity with each passing year, that’s becoming less and less feasible. Additionally, forcibly separating people from their property can lead to angry or combative emotions in your attendees, which doesn’t make for a great meeting atmosphere. So what’s a presenter to do?

We think that the best solution is to make use of the electronics that are present in the room. By encouraging your attendees to use the screens to participate, they’ll be less tempted to use them for other tasks. And you may even reap a few added benefits as well. So here are 4 ways you can incorporate electronics into your meetings.

Social Media Posting

If someone were to ask you, “Can I use Twitter while I’m in this meeting?” you’d probably be a bit taken aback. Who would have the audacity to ask such a thing? But the fact of the matter is, you can use people’s social media habits to your advantage.

Encourage your attendees to post relevant updates and photos to their social media accounts throughout the meeting. They can tag your business, use industry-relevant hashtags, and share photos of the team or the awesome brainstorming you’ve been doing (provided they’re not revealing any confidential information, of course). These kinds of posts have a number of benefits for our company:

 

1. They get your name out there. Your employees have friends and followers, and if they’re Tweeting and Facebooking about your business, their followers will see it.
2. It personalizes your brand. Consumers today like to know the companies they do business with are real human beings. If your employees are posting photos and sharing updates about your team, customers will feel more connected to your brand and be more likely to do business with you.
3. It keeps you relevant. Staying active on social media is essential to marketing these days. While posting every day from your business’s profile is still important, having other people talking about your business in any way lets consumers know that your business is active, growing, and relevant in your industry.

So don’t put a ban on social media usage. Just ensure it’s being used in a way that’s advantageous to your business and keeps your employees engaged with the topics being discussed in the meeting.

Research Assignments

Nobody wants to attend a meeting that feels like a lecture. So rather than providing your attendees with all of the information on a convenient PowerPoint, consider letting them do some of the research in the meeting. Have a few questions prepared that you’ll need answered. This might be statistics regarding your consumer base, or news articles about the latest marketing trends. Have them work individually or in small groups to find the relevant information on their electronic devices.

If their electronics are busy fulfilling an assignment, they can’t be a distraction to the meeting attendees. And, as an added bonus, your attendees will be more engaged and will retain more of the information from the meeting. Because you didn’t just tell them the information. You let them find it for themselves.

Collaborative Note Taking

The software available for computers and smart devices is incredible. If you have all of your meeting attendees install collaborative note-taking software on their devices, you have given everyone the ability to become more deeply engaged with your meeting. Individuals can jot notes on their devices and immediately share those notes with their peers.

If you’re using an interactive conference room display, the collaborative notes can also be pulled up on the screen for all to see. This is ideal for individuals who might not be comfortable standing up and expressing an idea aloud in front of a large meeting; instead, they’re able to share their notes with their peers easily through their electronics.

Viewing Presentation Materials

One of the problems with PowerPoints is that some people grasp a concept more quickly than others. Once they’ve looked through the slide and feel like they understand what you’re talking about, they may begin to tune out. Instead, you could share your presentation with everyone in the meeting and allow them to view the materials on their own devices.

This would allow them to flip through the slides with you if they wished, or glance ahead to get an idea of what’s coming next. You can also share other presentation materials, like links to websites or other outside sources that illustrate your point. While you may not be able to touch on all these materials in your actual presentation, your attendees could have the opportunity to look through them during the meeting on their devices if they wish.

Testing User Interfaces

Depending on the nature of your meeting and your business, you may find yourself with the need to test out the mobile compatibility of a website, or the usability of an app. Obviously, this is difficult to do if you don’t allow your attendees to bring their electronics into a meeting.

But with their electronics in hand, your attendees can simultaneously check your website’s functionality across all types of devices and major operating systems—assuming you have a somewhat diverse collection of electronics. This can be an important component of meetings dedicated to redesigning your website, or improving your eCommerce store.

While there will always be occasions where you want the electronics put away, the fact remains that technology has become ingrained in our DNA. Few people know how to function without it, and the business world relies on it for continued growth and success. That’s why we’ve built subtle charging ports into our conference tables, allowing your employees to charge their devices and use them to become more fully engaged during your meetings.
So don’t ban the electronics from your meetings. Instead, use them to your advantage. You’ll be surprised by how they can improve your meetings, and your employees will thank you for not forcing them to drop their phones into a basket.