How to tame Smartphones in meetings

I read recently of a cinema chain in the USA, AMC which owns 400 screens, has converted the back row to “texting aisles” where cinema goers can text and Facebook away without disturbing other viewers.

For me watching a blockbuster at the movies, gripped to your seats, is an experience which can easily be disturbed with the flash of a Smartphone screen but this cinema chain has decided to ride with it.

The axiom is “if you can’t beat them, join them” and this is exactly how we should treat texers or Smartphone addicts on our courses. Don’t try and beat them, we never will, people regard their phones as third limbs and get all shaky and sweaty when we take them away.

On courses, meetings and workshops, do you fight them or join them.

If you fight them you:

  • Ban phones
  • Ask them to switch them off
  • Tut tut when people start texing
  • Get really annoyed when someone uses one when you’re presenting

If you join them you:

  • Welcome Smartphones
  • Actively allow their use
  • Channel their use to the meeting’s objectives
  • Run quizzes using phones
  • Use them as microphones for the Q&A – yes you can get software for that.
  • Use them to poll the audience
  • Set up a hashtag to encourage comments and questions
  • Set exercises that ask them to Google something or look something up.
  • Pick a YouTube video for them to watch which helps with the workshop
  • Have five minute email breaks
  • Make your workshop far more involved so you don’t find yourself lecturing all the time

So are you trying to beat them or are you joining them. I’m not sure about the back row of the cinema being used for texting, I thought it had other uses.