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January 15, 2016

IMEX America: 40 Percent of Professionals Think Mobile Devices Should Be Banned From Meetings

In a recent survey of meeting professionals conducted by IMEX America in conjunction with MPI, 40 percent of respondents agreed with the proposition that ‘to maximize attention, delegates should be banned from using personal devices during conference sessions and meetings: they should be told to switch them off and put them away before the meeting starts.’

Cell Phone
Photo by Freeimages.com/Aleksandra Burżacka

In addition, some business experts agree with a ‘no device’ policy.  In the Harvard Business Review, contributing editor Amy Gallo decisively backed up this approach. In an article entitled ‘The Condensed Guide to Running Meetings’, she recommends that organizers ‘Ban Devices – they are unavoidably distracting for everyone.’

According to IMEX America, the major factor in Gallo’s views is the opinions of Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School. 

According to Gino, many people think they can multitask while listening to someone in a meeting but research shows that they can’t.

“Multitasking is simply a mythical activity. We can do simple tasks like walking and talking at the same time, but the brain can’t handle multitasking,” says Gino. “In fact, studies show that a person who is attempting to multitask takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and he or she makes up to 50% more mistakes.” 

IMEX America also reported that a clue to why many delegates feel the need to keep checking their phones for messages may be found in recent research commissioned by Warwick Conferences. The research found that while out of the office on training courses, 81 percent of respondents had received emails requesting action to be completed at that time, sometimes from the manager who had sent them to the course. 

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group said: “The disruptive and distracting influence of smartphone and device messages on meetings is clearly very powerful, but so too is the urge and often pressure (perceived or real) to check for and respond to requests and news real-time. 

Bauer went on to say: “Perhaps a more sensible approach is to give delegates space and time within every event to check and respond to important messages, so that they can be fully focused on the content when actually in a session. Ultimately, the investment of time and money in attending an event should hopefully ensure that delegates want to stay focused on the content, as much as they wish to keep up to date with their emails.”

The IMEX Group's questions were asked as part of MPI's quarterly Meetings Outlook research that took place in autumn 2015.

Visit www.imexamerica.com 

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