Time to get back to
work, optimize your synergies, strategize your outcomes, deliver your
deliverables and we thought a few tips from David Goad, WebEx guru (and blogger) might get you off to a fresh start. In part one, David talks about the
challenges of multitasking. In part two, he has a list of seven ways to engage
multitaskers during your meetings.
Multi-tasking is not a crime.
For knowledge workers today, it is a survival skill. If you can’t manage and filter streams of data coming at you from multiple synchronous and asynchronous channels, you are doomed to drift aimlessly at sea. The ability to keep swimming in a somewhat forward direction requires tremendous effort, and the ability to ignore as well as pay attention.
Time has always been talked about as the most important commodity, with hundreds of books written on “time management.” With knowledge workers struggling to deal with today’s digital avalanche, I propose that “focus” is the new most important commodity.
If you want focus from colleagues or subordinates on what you have to say, you cannot just demand it anymore. You have to earn it. And you have to compete with omnipresent digital devices that make your audience smarter, blur the lines between business and personal communication, and quite frankly, may be more interesting than what you have to say at that moment.
So what can you do about it?
Let’s talk about focus in meetings. I define a meeting as a gathering of people with a need to collaborate to achieve some common business purpose. In the old days (choose your own pre-90s decade) mono-tasking people would sit together in a conference room and talk, maybe with a few whiteboard drawings to punctuate important points. Common courtesy required that you looked at who was talking, listened, waited your turn and then volunteered your opinion.
Let’s be honest. This courtesy is not common anymore.
People (myself included) not only talk all at once, they bring their world with them to meetings in the form of iPhones, blackberries and laptops. Even though it is valuable to have knowledge at their fingertips, they also have the temptation to sneak quick looks at unrelated items in their inboxes.
Extending your reach to remote participants via WebEx is a wonderful thing, but presents the challenge of not even being able to see when your audience begins to multi-task. They are sitting in front of computers with other business, entertainment and social media distractions waiting in the wings.
Read part two: Seven Steps for Engaging People during an Online Meeting.