All to often when we go to meetings we bring our laptops with us, this isn’t inherently bad because hey can be a very useful tool for a meeting. This is all well and good, but even a 12 or 13 inch laptop (the smaller form factor of regular laptops) can create what I like to call the wall of laptops.
The Wall of Laptops
The wall of laptops is simply when EVERYONE at a meeting has a laptop sitting in front of them. This can do several things to your meeting:
- Allow Distractions – The wall of laptops allows the meeting attendees to disconnect from the meeting by either doing work, IMing, or even surfing the web.
- Discouraging Participation – Not only do larger laptops create a physical barrier to participation they also create an emotional one as well. The classic signs of participation (leaning in to show interest, hand and arm movement) are all cut off from the rest of the participants.
Break Down These Walls
There are a couple easy ways to break down the wall of laptops:
- Ban Laptops at Your Meeting – If you are the organizer of the meeting let it be known that laptops are not allowed at the meeting unless you are presenting to the meeting group and need a computer or are going to be taking meeting notes (and hold whoever volunteers to this promise!).
- Encourage the Use of Netbooks – Netbooks are the new class of super small laptops that are cheap and underpowered. They are perfect for this situation because of their small profile and underpowered components. These laptops are designed for light-weight applications and therefore are PERFECT for taking notes. Their small form factor also allows encourages participation because they don’t have a large screen to hide behind and when an attendee is actually doing something on their netbook it will be obvious to all the participants.
Hopefully these tips can help bothy our meeting schedulers AND attendees get more out of their meetings, because we all know meetings are expensive in more way than one and the better we can make them the better off EVERYONE is.