Should You Bring Your Laptop To Meetings? – Inside Higher Ed (blog)

Should you bring your laptop to meetings? I don’t. But there are some good reasons why you might.

Reason 1 – Note Taking:

My work is organized on Evernote. Notebooks for all the big projects and initiatives that I work on. Notes within notebooks that capture action items and key information.

If I’m trying to work through a project I refer to my notes in Evernote. Taking notes in Evernote during a meeting ensures that I’m capturing the important information. I can then go back and re-organize my notes so that my next steps and deliverables are clear.

Reconstructing meeting notes, either from hand-written notes or from memory, is time intensive and error prone. I’m not nearly smart enough to keep everything that I’m doing in my head.  I need notes to help me figure things out.  

Reason 2 – Collaboration:

Meetings are for work.  Information sharing should not be the main focus of a meeting.  

The work that is done at a meeting often results in some sort of document. That document might be a presentation. Or it may be a text document that will be used for communications, planning, or programming. Sometimes that document is a spreadsheet.

If you have your laptop at meetings you can often push this work forward. Everyone in the meeting can get on a collaborative platform – such as Google Docs – and get the work done.  It is impossible to collaborate unless you have your laptop.

Reason 3 – Critical E-Mail Responses:

Let’s face it.  We are all in too many meetings. And during the day there are some e-mails that need to be dealt with. If we don’t sometimes deal with e-mails during meetings we would never be able to stop working. Our work days would stretch long into our nights.

Nobody wants to answer e-mails during a meeting. But sometimes it is necessary to deal with critical e-mails. If the laptop gets left back in the office then those critical e-mails will wait.

Are these 3 reasons good enough to bring a laptop?  I’ve decided for myself that the answer is no.  

Nowadays, my big goal at every meeting I attend is to listen.  

Listening sounds simple.  But it’s not.  Really listening is actually really difficult.  Or at least really difficult for me.

Listening takes all my energy.  All my concentration.  

If I am doing anything else on my laptop during a meeting then – at least for me – I’m not fully listening.

Going to meetings with a big goal of listening does not sound like a very productive strategy.  Or maybe even a realistic strategy.  

There is real work to get done, and we need our laptops to do that work.  And maybe there is a good balance to be had.  One where we can be focused and engaged listeners, and also benefit from the productivity possibilities of our laptops.

This, by the way, is not an argument for no laptops in classrooms.  I believe that laptops can be an effective tool for teaching – but only when they are used purposefully and with care.  

Perhaps we should be thinking about laptops in meetings with the same skepticism that we think about laptops in the classroom.

Perhaps laptops in meetings should not be the default, but only brought out when the use of the laptop is part of the work being done at the meeting.

What is your meeting laptop strategy?



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