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Is Multi-tasking All its Cracked Up to Be?

‘I know the Zoom call was shaky – it was probably because someone has a slow internet connection.  No problem, I was multi-tasking anyway.’

Wow  It there was ever an indictment of so called multi-tasking it was this. Why have a meeting at all.

I thought the purpose of meetings was to communicate ideas and to get people on board with certain concepts. How can you do that when half the people at the meeting are dividing their time between the zoom call and checking email, finishing reports, and gasp, dare I say it, working social media.

I was at a technology meeting last year in Las Vegas. The panels were pitching some very interesting concepts dealing with tech and parking. There were some pretty high rollers speaking including folks from Volkswagen, Google, Apple and the like. These companies will have a great impact on our industry in the years to come.

I glanced around my table and noticed that every person sitting there was on their smart phone, tapping away madly. It was world class multi-tasking. I wondered why they came to the meeting at all. Not only was it rude to the speakers, but a waste of the attendees time and money. When I’m a speaker, I don’t let the audience get by this multi-tasking. I walk around the room and stand in front of those working on their phones until they notice me and stop.

I defy anyone to prove to me that they can do three things at once and do their best work on all three. I think we are being suckered in by the “Zoom” and Pandemic generation.

If you want to turn out your best work, close the door, turn off the phone, and focus. If you are having a meeting, have a meeting, dammit. Zoom and concalls simply don’t cut it. You need to see the people in the meeting and you need to see their reactions and get their responses in real time. Plus they deserve the respect that comes from enabling them to actually interrupt from time to time and get their words and ideas in edgewise. Sometimes a sharp response or a quick argument isn’t a bad thing.

I think we are using the pandemic as an excuse to not have face to face, focused meetings. Read about the pandemic on page 22. Case rates are down up to 70%. Doctors are saying that herd immunity could be in place as early as April. Isn’t it time to get back to business? Isn’t it time to get your folks back into the office and focused on what you are paying them to do?

JVH

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