This article first appeared on April 25th, 2012.
By now, followers of The Taskmaster will have picked up on the fact that meetings are not my most favourite thing in the world.
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But as I know they are a necessary evil, I have given myself to the art of getting the most out of them in as little time as possible. And you, dear reader, get to enjoy the fruits of my suffering.
Well, today I come to you with a new rule for meetings: No screens.
The rise of the laptop, the smartphone and the tablet computer mean that most meetings I attend start with me telling people to stop checking their phones and concentrate.
Then, one and usually two people will spend at least a third of the meeting checking their screens, reading email, typing a few things and, for all I know, playing a bit of solitaire.
By the time the meeting ends, three or four people are openly looking at their phones and the rest are so desperate to get theirs out they almost fall over each other to get out of the room.
So I’ve laid down the law. No one is too busy or too important to give their full attention for the duration of a meeting.
If you are too busy or too important, don’t come – we’ll get through what we need to get through that much quicker.
If you need to take notes, use a piece of paper and a pen.
If you’re waiting for a call or an important email, reschedule. Or wait – no email needs an instant response.
And if you’re playing solitaire, just get out!
No screens equals faster meetings, equals happier Taskmaster.
Get it done – today!