How to stop people from using phones in meetings

When consulting organization on effective meetings, it inevitably comes up about how to stop people from using phones in meetings.

There was once a time in which the meeting organizer would put the basket by the door and demand each person drop their phone or pager inside before entering the meeting. (yeah, I said pager . . . remember those? I had one.)  While this method can still be seen in some scenarios, the resistance to this abuse is widespread. People can’t bear to part with them.

ENTER – effective meeting tool #138 – “The Phone Stack” – one of my favorite new SRD’s from the Bore No More movement.


The effective meeting Phone Stack

The effective meeting Phone Stack

It is a fact! In most office meetings, we multi-task by responding to texts and monitoring email. Is it an effective meeting problem? It sure can be – absolutely.  Especially, when we truly need everyone focused and interacting for all or part of the discussion. When we ask Jon, “What do you think about that?”  and he shamelessly looks up from his screen with the “Can you repeat the question…?” face. This leading to do-over meetings and repeated content – the very backbone of boring meetings that suck!

How does it work?

  • We need a focused group for an unspecified amount of time.
  • The leader (or attendee if necessary) calls “PHONE STACK!”
  • Everyone stacks their phone in the middle of the table. No one is allowed to touch them.
  • The first person who does – is buying the drinks that night or the bagels the next morning.
  • The goal: Resolve this issue, make the decision, pitch your point, gather feedback or otherwise complete the 100% focus item BEFORE the stack falls down due to all the buzzing and vibrations of each email and text notification from all the phones.
  • When the task is complete, the leader or attendees can also agree that the phone stack is over, and everyone takes their device without fault.

The result: you don’t subject people to withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of vibrations in their pocket. AND, you can claim your focus time when truly needed.

Credit – I learned this great SRD while working with corporate show director Julie Leithoff and Vista Production in Louisville KY.  Kudo’s to both for a flawless technical production.

How to stop people using phones in meetings

How to stop people using phones in meetings


Posted by Jon Petz in Boring Meetings Suck, Effective Meetings Skills.

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