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Gadget etiquette

You love your laptop, right?  It goes where you go and it’s oh so handy for meetings.  Well, personally I’m a pen and paper girl but if it’s really important and will make things easier I will tote around my laptop and use it in meetings.

Not using it for every meeting makes me acutely aware of some of the bad habits people adopt when they use their gadgets around other people.  Remember, being an office goddess is all about making it look easy, seamless, effortless.  So don’t get side-swiped by gadgets: follow these tips for office gadget etiquette.

Laptops

  • If you are going to use a laptop in a meeting, set it up beforehand.  Don’t waste meeting time (and everyone else’s time) while you try to work out how to connect it up and then realise you have left the mains cable at your desk and you only have 16 minutes of battery power left anyway.
  • Know how it works.  Sort out your 3G/wifi in advance.  Get the passwords, know how to route round your proxy server when you are out of the office.
  • If you are using your laptop to give a presentation, get there early and set it up with the projector.  Know how to switch the display to the projector, and then back to your screen.  During the presentation, switch the display away from the screen if you are fiddling with slides or trying to find things on your laptop – then switch it back.  Don’t give everyone the opportunity to see your emails 6ft high on the wall.
  • If it’s your meeting, get the right size table.  There is nothing worse than trying to squash 6 laptops on a tiny circular table and balance the projector on your knees.
  • Think about the room size too:  if it is too small it will soon get hot with all those gadgets.
  • Turn the volume off before you get to the meeting room.  Those login chimes or email alert noises are really annoying and are always 100% louder than you were expecting.
  • You can’t talk and type.  If you need to take minutes of a meeting on the fly, have someone do it for you.  Otherwise you really aren’t saving any time, all you are doing is replacing type-it-up-later time with sitting-in-silence-in-the-meeting-room-while-I-type time.

Phones and BlackBerries

  • Put your phone on silent.  If there’s recording equipment or video conferencing in the room turn it off.  Can’t turn it off?  How important are you, really?  If you are so important that you can’t turn your phone off for an hour you will have a secretary who can come and get you if the world starts to implode.  Just prep your staff in advance so they know you are unavailable.
  • If you are expecting a call, let the meeting attendees know in advance.  It happens.  Then sit by the door and let yourself out quietly when you get the call.  Not all calls.  Just the one you were expecting that is important enough for you to excuse yourself from the meeting.
  • Don’t let your BlackBerry vibrate on the desk.  You know how much of a racket this makes.  It’s much more discrete to have it in your pocket or on the chair next to you.  Besides, you shouldn’t be looking at it anyway.
  • Let’s just repeat that last point: you shouldn’t be looking at it anyway.  Texts or emails can wait.  It is so disrespectful to check your messages when someone is giving a presentation – unless you want to send the message that they are overrunning their allocated slot and are giving the dullest presentation ever.
  • Typing away when you are on a conference call is noisy for the other attendees.  Don’t do it.  Or wear a headset for your phone; it mutes the noise of the keys tapping.

OK, no excuses now.  Set a good example for everyone else!

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.

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