Facilitator Journal | Issue #0281, December 5, 2006 ....
Many of us are finding ourselves facilitating or training in
virtual environments more and more frequently. One concern I hear consistently
are challenges leaders are having getting their participants to focus
on the meeting versus being distracted by their laptops, cell phones,
blackberries, and other culprits of multitasking. In this week's article,
"Can You Pass the Blackberry Test?," we explore how we
can use these distractions to make us better group leaders.
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You Pass the Blackberry Test?
A new look at attention competition
Many of us are finding ourselves facilitating or training in virtual environments
more frequently. One concern I hear consistently are challenges leaders
are having getting their participants to focus on the meeting versus being
distracted by their laptops, cell phones, blackberries, and other culprits
My thinking on this "problem" was expanded recently when I came
article by Mary Boone, President of Boone Associates called "ROM:
Return on Meetings." One of the points Mary cites in her article
Blackberry Test." Here's how she describes it.
in all sizes of meetings are often so wrapped up in what's going on
outside the meeting that it's hard to engage them, even with the best
performers or the most polished speakers. And a meeting can't possibly
be strategic unless people are engaged. The bottom line is, if you can't
pass the "Blackberry Test," you aren't getting good ROM (Return
on Meetings). What's the Blackberry Test? If more than 5% of your
audience is thumb-scrolling their Blackberries during the meeting, you've
The next time you're tempted to say "Turn off your Blackberries
and cellphones!" ask yourself: "Have we done all we can to
make sure that this meeting is highly strategic, interactive, and directly
relevant to participants?" Take the challenge to make the meetings
at your organization more engaging and interactive. If you step up to
the plate, you and the business leaders you serve will experience true
helped me change my perspective. The increasing number of distractions
in our lives certainly do make it tougher to engage people. But is that
such a bad thing? While these "distractions" compete with that
increasingly scarce commodity...our attention, they also have the potential
of making us more productive.
The days when a mediocre lecturer could captivate a 20th century audience
for hours are gone. Today, those seeking to attract and hold the attention
of their audiences must be more compelling than the distractions. So in
a way, Blackberries can make us better...Facilitators, Trainers, Speakers,
and Presenters...if we let them. How? Let's take a stab at that.
Do I still
have your attention? You
see, we can just tell it like it is anymore. We've got to tell it with
these ideas on to turn your thinking on the blackberry dilemma.
- The problem isn't them, it's you. I
know, I don't like the sound of that either, but it's largely true. If
we're not keeping our group's attention, we've got to quit thinking that
this is a problem with "them." We've got to own it as ours.
If we're not commanding the attention and engagement of our group, we've
got to do something differently.
- The great quickening. Did
you know that "quickening" is defined as the first time you
feel your baby move--a long anticipated event in every pregnancy? I had
no idea that's what was coming when I wrote this tagline a moment ago.
It just "felt" like the right word and I thought, "What
the hell, go look it up on Google and see what comes out."
So, you've got to feel "your baby" move when you're leading
your groups. While this may be a metaphorical "stretch," it's
that kind of enthusiasm you've got to be feeling for your audience to,
well, frankly, give a damn! If what you're doing doesn't summon your own
energy, it won't draw others in. Go back to drawing board or step it up
- Get on with it! If there's one thing people hate more than meetings,
it's s..l..o...w meetings. Don't stretch your meeting to fit into the
token hour or two allocated for it. Get it moving and keep it moving at
a crisp pace. Keep people on target, and don't waste time. Get it done
so that people can get what they need and get back to business.
- Name the elephant. If people are simply so distracted by other
work that they can't offer enough attention to keep the meeting afloat,
either cancel it or shift the focus to "focus" issue. Find out
what if anything people need to get themselves fully engaged in the room.
There's no better focus for a training or meeting than the very immediate
impediments people are having to working in the present, right here, and
right now with their peers.
this article changed your mind about the "blackberry problem?"
Please click reply and share your comments. I'd love to hear from you.
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