05292017

Could Enforcing a Digital Detox Transform Your Meetings?

How enforcing a digital detox can transform your meetings from drab to dynamic. Turn off your phone for creativity and collaboration.

From colleagues’ intrusive ringtones to “technical difficulties” with slideshow presentations, technology may be good for many things, but it’s not always the answer when it comes to productive meetings. Whether your CEO is distracted by her inbox, your co-workers have more Instagram followers than fresh ideas, or all that Googling is getting between your group and a productive discussion, jettisoning the tech can sometimes be the best way to get meetings back on track.

Why technology sucks

We all know that our increasingly digital lifestyles are having a marked effect on almost every area of life; from how we build relationships and access information, to how we sleep and how much time we spend alone with our thoughts.

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Centre, our ever-increasing reliance on the internet for information and entertainment is making us worse at problem-solving, recalling facts and learning – even triggering a problem nick-named; “digital amnesia.” For example, did you know that 71 percent of parents today can’t remember their children’s phone number?

With the average smartphone user checking their mobile device a reported 27 times a day (and other reports suggesting this figure is far higher), it’s clear that not everything about technology is beneficial to the human race. While having instant access to the facts you need at the touch of a button has a huge array of potential benefits, it’s also making us less effective at fixing real world issues, thinking creatively and retaining new information – a recipe for disaster in the boardroom!

Shut down to turn on

A place for open, informed discussion, collaboration and creativity, meeting rooms are far less technology-friendly than you might think. You may be used to meetings where every attendee is checking their own devices while just a small percentage actually give their attention to a projected PowerPoint presentation. Imagine now much more your team could get out of these sessions simply by taking part in a “digital detox.”

With no distracting feeds on tap and no presentations with time-wasting “where’s the dratted cable?” moments,  there’s much more time for real conversation and genuine creativity in meetings with a technology embargo. By excluding the digital world, you could even improve your memory and recall, giving your team the knowledge to really impress clients, customers and contacts during their next professional interaction.

But not everybody is inclined to go technology-free – even for the length of a meeting. Many of us are so attached to our digital devices that it can feel as if they’re an essential part of our personal and working lives, rather than a potential encumbrance. If you’d like to give your team a digital detox, here are a few tips which might help you convince even the most compulsive screen-swiper.

1. Give them the facts

There are tons of terrifying statistics about the negative effects digital living has on our brains and our everyday activities – just like the ones we’ve shared above – which many people don’t even consider until they think about it. Wink’s infographic is packed with shocking statistics about what the “just Google it” mentality is doing to our memory (did you know just 47 percent of us can remember our own phone numbers from when we were 10 to 15?). Meanwhile this paper from Elon University reveals that 92 percent of study participants agreed that smartphone use had a negative impact on face-to-face interaction.

2. Create a “safe space” for tech

Out of sight, out of mind. It’s only too easy to check your phone out of habit, even during a digital detox. Encourage meeting attendees to leave their phones outside the meeting room in a safe space, such as a locker or securely with a member of staff at reception.

3. Think outside the PowerPoint

PowerPoints can cause meeting attendees to shut off and enter “snooze mode” in approximately 3 minutes flat. A tech-free meeting is your chance to get across your points in a more engaging and interactive way, so think creatively about non-digital ways to illustrate your points, such as games and activities.

4. Go al fresco

One of the best parts about an “unplugged meeting” is that it can happen absolutely anywhere. Why not relocate to your team’s favorite coffee shop or a nearby green space? A change of scenery can make all of that technology feel totally unnecessary and give you all a burst of creativity — not to mention a breath of fresh air.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / nenetus

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