5 Reasons Why Smart People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings

You are trying to make a great impression at your company. You work hard and are a valued member of your team. So, why haven’t you landed that promotion yet? The answer could be singing from your pocket.


Why smart people never bring smartphones into meetings

Here are five reason why smart people never bring smartphones into meetings:


There you are in the middle of an important power point presentation full of vital clues that will destroy the roadblock in your current project. Just as the key to the solution comes up the room is taken over by a tinny rendition of today’t top pop song. Not only does it drown out the answer, it severs your connection to the path leading up to the solution. Instead of leaving the meeting confident in your ability to tackle your project, you will now only remember that one of your teammates killed your idea before it could even fully form just by leaving their cell phone on. Interruptions like these undermine team building and hamper productivity. By leaving your phone in your desk, you remove all chance of your phone interfering with your next meetings message.

Focus Completely on the Meeting

It’s tempting to check your e-mail one last time, or text a quick message while everyone is getting settled. Then maybe add a quick reply or update your calendar with new information. It will only take a minute after all. If the meeting is slow, you might even tap out a fast response while your presenter’s back is turned. Meanwhile, those around you can tell that your mind is elsewhere. Your lack of attention creates an impression that you are not taking the meeting seriously. By leaving your smartphone out of the meeting room, you will be better able to focus on the meeting at hand. Giving all of your attention to those around you lets them know that you see them as important. This creates a stronger team. You are also much more likely to catch all of the points presented during the meeting if you are not distracted by unrelated material from last minute e-mail.

Shows Proper Preparation

You may be used to relying on your smartphone for on the spot research or accessing files for a quick response to questions. While this may be handy, it also may be destroying the image of being well prepared that you want to project. If you must constantly check your phone to find the answers you need, it is a good sign that you are not ready for the questions. Interacting with the group while maintaining eye contact shows that you know your material.

Confidence Smartphones

have become a habit of comfort. While they are an incredibly useful tool, there is also a soothing affect that comes from knowing your phone is securely nestled in your pocket.  Knowing that you are not dependent on a handheld device in order to give your best to the information at hand can make you feel more confident. Confidence in yourself attracts confidence from others which can lead to very positive work relationships.

Better Brain Storming

Using your favorite search engine as an idea generator might be a quick solution to the brainstorming problem, but all you will get is other people’s ideas. By removing the option to use your smartphone and forcing yourself to come up with your own ideas, you are much more likely to find novel solutions to the specific problems your company may be facing.

For more ideas on how to get the most out of your company’s meetings, contact us.

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This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising,  graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering,  Now what do we do?”  We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?


  • By Edgar Valdmanis 25 Oct 2014

    I used to bring my phone in. At my current company we have set a rule, our own phones go on total silent, not even vibra, mode when in meetings. If clients prefer to have their phones on, that´s their decision, but our phones never ring. Never.
    The only reason to bring them up is to sync calendars for a possible next meeting to be set there and then.
    And we never do anything else than agree on the time for the next meeting.
    Much better.

  • By Trina Moitra 29 Oct 2014

    Actually chuckling at inane jokes when the CEO was presenting reasons behind us losing significant market shares. Whasapp will be the death of us!!

  • By Thomas BORDES 29 Oct 2014

    Spotted people playing games on their telephone while ‘listening’ to a conference call. It happens for very large All Hands meetings that people on the same site regroup in a meeting room to listen to the conference and then exchange views. But during these calls, all will tend to mind their own business (emails, IMs…), so it doesn’t make a great difference. Except for the poor guy whose laptop is used to project content 😀

  • By Bill Corbin 29 Oct 2014

    The Peter Drucker level of experts in time management and personal efficiency are surely flipping in their graves about this topic seeing the light of day. The CORE idea that important time can be interrupted — by either habit or pecking order of intruder role — is a disaster. To the extent it’s “trending” among younger people, we may see the day when there is no coherent thinking. (90 minutes PD said about minimum time for progress via focused thinking.)

  • By Len 29 Oct 2014

    The rudest thing I’ve seen from people bringing smartphones into meetings, is not turning them off at the start.

  • By Steven J. Dalicandro 29 Oct 2014

    To me, the more pressing issue here is how technology; in this case a smartphone (or as I like to call it; a dumb device) is de-socializing the world. When you travel to the office tomorrow, take note at how many people are texting while they drive “ON THE HIGHWAY!” no less, or how eye contact during a one:one conversation has decreased, or as this article points out, has created an ignorance factor that has entered even the most prestigious of board rooms. A wake up call is in order here in addition to a firm stance on not allowing this sort of decision making to occur.

  • By Tom Smith 29 Oct 2014

    Great topic. I believe people should put their phone on “silent mode” — in all situations.

    I don’t want to hear your phone, or mine, ring anywhere.

    The only time I answer the phone when I’m in a meeting, with one person or ten, is if my wife makes back-to-back calls thus indicating it’s an emergency.

  • By Gail Paul 29 Oct 2014

    First of all, as many have suggested, put your phone on vibrate and discretely look to see who’s calling.

    Secondly, except for family or business emergencies, stress on the word emergencies, I think it’s rude to answer the phone while in a meeting with someone.

    Thirdly, our expectations of instant communication and accessibility need to be dialed back a bit. The bar has been set very low for delayed gratification.

    I also feel sorry for a presenter at a meeting or seminar when everyone is checking their phones and texting. Do you think the speakers don’t notice? Do you think it’s not distressing to the speaker, who may be boring, but has undoubtedly put some amount of effort into the presentation? Nap with your eyes open.

  • By Michael Lynch 29 Oct 2014

    “Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion and under performance. Everything else requires leadership.” – Peter Drucker. We may want to update Mr. Drucker’s prophecy to include a fourth…Cell phone usage by the self indulged. If leadership can’t solve this challenge,what does it say about the business?

  • By Venkat Narayanan 29 Oct 2014

    There is also the hidden cost of follow up meetings, offline briefings, confusion and clarifications because the attendee chose their smartphone over paying attention to the speaker. That wastes time, and is as rude as checking email and taking calls during a meeting. Steps to prevention: exclude such people from decision making processes and tighten meeting productivity by setting clear agendas and inviting only relevant people. Social pressure will work better than sanctions. I do like the idea of checking the phones in at the door. Establish a protocol to deal with emergency calls from coworkers or kids or spouse (it happens).

  • By Meenal Sinha 29 Oct 2014

    An extremely relevant topic in today’s day and age. People seem to have convinced them selves that all hell will break loose if they do not take calls or respond to messages for an hour or two. Are we saying that before the mobile technology was invented and literally invaded our lives, no one was really working hard? Were the huge corporations and conglomerates not there and were their founders and CEOs not really working? I do not believe in taking my mobile phone for meetings that I hold in my office. If it is an urgent business matter my assistant can pass on the information to me. And for meetings outside my office my mobile is on silent mode, all alerts off – no not even on vibra mode and certainly not on display on the meeting room table. My friends and family know I will not be available during office hours and they should even try during that time only in case of an emergency! Even my son has been following this rule since he was 5 yrs old and barely understood what constitutes an emergency

  • By Meenal Sinha 29 Oct 2014

    I am a working mother and have been working most of my 12 year old sons life (did take a 2.5 yr break). Yes it is difficult, but I plan my meetings carefully and inform the help at home along with my husband and son that I will not be able to take any calls the next day between such and such time. So they know they have to call my husband. In scenarios where my husband was also in a meeting at the same time, I would forward my mobile calls to my assistants phone and I leave instructions on how to deal with regular matters. She could reach me in case of a real emergency at any time. I understand the anxieties we face when away from our loved ones and yes it is difficult, but if we are working then we do need to give it our 100%. I don’t know about others but the mere act of sneaking a look on your phone while I am talking, shows a level of disrespect towards me and a certain lack of attention. And unfortunately I know a lot of people who call a person back to back at least 5-6 times for a general inconsequential conversation! Not only during meetings, I do not take personal calls during the entire time at office in fact. Just one important call – when my son gets home from school, so I know everything is fine. It is of course a very personal choice and depends on your organisation’s culture and how everyone else you are meeting with behaves, but we need to remember – our moms did not have mobiles when we were growing up.

  • By Reem Hammoud 29 Oct 2014

    Higher ups are leaders. They should lead by example. Yet, those same leaders come to meetings with their phones not even on vibrate and pick up when they want if they receive a call here or there. Perhaps it gives them a sense of importance and hence satisfies showcasing it in the pretense of others. While it is understood emergencies could arise at any given time, the least is to keep ones phone on vibrate and ONLY pick up when the call vibrations is from a source that could very well be an emergency. I say that because I’m a mother and while my child is at school I do often get calls that he’s sick or fell or is hurt. When I see the school number on my screen it is valid to step out and take such a call. Otherwise, everything else should and must wait. No one is more important than anyone else. That being said, anyone who demonstrates importance in any way, is perceived negatively. Leadership is an action and not a position. Respect and modesty are crucial in the work place and in life. Respect yourself, respect others and respect the property. The famous 3R’s.

  • By Christine Gapuz 29 Oct 2014

    Some of my team members use their smartphones to take notes, but it’s hard to tell sometimes if they really are note-taking. I’ve been lucky enough not to have had someone take a call in the middle of a meeting I’m presiding over.

  • By Georgios Kosmadakis 30 Oct 2014

    Forget answering calls and checking e-mails. I have seen people play games in their phones. And in short and not boring meetings. Sorry but if your farm or bubbles or troops cannot wait for the meeting to be over then you definitely need another job. It got me really irritated but as I was not running the meeting I did not say anything. The problem is that it insults the people next to you.

    Even if the meeting is so boring (which it wasn’t) there is no excuse for that. Other than this I have stopped bringing my phone to meeting apart from when I am expecting important phone calls. Some times you have to answer and most times this has nothing to do with work. As Memo said and as I am facing such issues sometimes work is not as important.

  • By Ketharaman Swaminathan (GTM360 Marketing Solutions) 30 Oct 2014

    With so much content out there about how meetings are unproductive, total waste of time, and all that, some people might think that they’re being good at time management by using their smartphones for doing their regular work during meetings:) And if “regular work” includes checking their Facebook feed, doing online shopping, and so on, who am I to complain?!

  • By Anju Makin 30 Oct 2014

    Its a matter of priorities. Take the important call, by all means, but finish it within a minute. That way you are respecting both the caller and the person in front of you.
    Requires an innate built-in respect for other people’s time as well as yours, and only comes to a person who has been brought up well.

  • By Dean Grimshawe 30 Oct 2014

    It seems to have developed into an accepted part of the culture in some environments to be staring at a phone/ laptop during a meeting? It’s not taking calls that was an issue most of the time but blatantly switching off to tend to emails. Astounding really

  • By Guillermo Carretero 30 Oct 2014

    When yo are in a meeting , or a negotiation , or selling an idea or products , You need to capture all the interest of the people in front of you. This is maden by the hipnosis of the magic capturing his brains and his hards. There,s no wife , bussines , questions, matters of work that could take you out of this special and profesional moment IN THAT MOMENT YOU ARE MOSES TALKING TO JEWISH PEOPLE, SIR WINSTON CHURCHIL IN FRONT OF THE TROOPS AND MAC ARTHUR MINUTES BEFORE THE D DAY. YOU ARE GOD !!
    And nobody can interrup you, even your wife or if you are not the owner ALSO NOT your Boss .

    When i enter in a Bussiness battle I am Aquiles Alexander the great, God. Thor and Einstein together . NOBODY mine or somebody of my client has any right to break the magic of my eyes and the sound of my words.And we could live without the umbilical conecction of the modern “machines makers of slaves” You must be free totally.
    Inside my company if there is an internal meeting I accept almost everithing ideas orjokes but if a cellular rings , the celular and the ownergo outside throw the Window.

    There is a story about a young Price that arrive to an old chuch in a little Town . And the old bishop tell him … saturday night we togheter go to another litle town womens , wine laugh, music………..

    The young boy accept inmidiatlly , and saturday cames and pass when they return to the litle church the old bishop ask the young confess me please… ok say the young ,and the old man tell him all the story that they pass togheter. The young say one “pather noster ” its enough. ok say the old now you tell me what did you do from the bottom of your hard. The young confusse report the same , and the old man very angry says you have not moral , you are out of the church and I dont want to see you never again !!!! The young look crying the old farher and say , why father if we have done the same !!


    I spect every body up to 14 years understand this tale………..thanks. A manager and old officer………………….

  • By Russ Benblatt 30 Oct 2014

    I think a major paradigm shift is needed, not a smartphone-basket at the door to every conference room.

    We live in a time where technology, and specifically communications technology, is pervasive. There’s no way around it, and the fact that we live in an always connected society is the new reality. What are you going to do, ask people to leave their smart watches at the door? No, of course not. And for those of in the communications/marketing/PR world, there are often times when we NEED to be connected, regardless of what else may be going on.

    So here’s what I’d offer as a way to deal with this new paradigm – If people can’t act like adults when it comes to respect for their coworkers, especially in a meeting, then ask them to leave. If it becomes a habit, then maybe it’s time to have a more difficult conversation.

    On a personal note, I just ended a period of time where I NEEDED to be connected to my phone at all times due to a serious illness with a family member. BUT….I started every meeting explaining that I couldn’t turn it off and would only answer if it was one of my fathers doctors.

    Isn’t it time we all just start acting like the adults we are, instead of finding workarounds for reality?

  • By Marc Spring 30 Oct 2014

    Wow..this topic is so easy…You chose to go to the meeting you are at…Focus on that meeting..If you are expecting another call the your guest know you are waiting for a call that you must take…That should be the only call..If you are a Dr. or in a profession where lives are on the line that is much different…

    My girlfriend makes it a point that we put our phones away when we sit down to meals…Respect…or you wont get RESPECTED!

  • By chuck 30 Oct 2014

    If I was conducting a team meeting I’d make paper available and hand out this study:

    The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard
    Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

  • By chuck 30 Oct 2014

    If you are not able to pay attention in a meeting then walk out. That is far less rude.

  • By Mike 30 Oct 2014

    I use my phone for notes, but always notify the person I’m meeting with so I’m not mistaken for texting. I’ve been in a number of meetings while people are working on laptops during the meeting. Just as bad.

  • By Nicole 08 Nov 2014

    If you have pre-advised that person that you are going to receive a call then this is okay. But to be on a smart phone during a meeting is a no no. Things like that are be responded after a meeting which don’t take much time to do that… au.linkedin.com/in/npapa1

  • By Deb 11 Nov 2014

    We live in an age where note-taking on smartphones is becoming a standard. If you can’t trust your employees to take notes without interrupting meetings, using company time for personal time, or any of the other problems that have been mentioned here, perhaps it’s time to revisit your employee handbook and/or hiring practices. If you don’t change with the times, they will change without you.

  • By Chris 11 Nov 2014

    This was several years ago, but I interviewed with three people at the same time…all in a room together. They sat across from me so I could see them all. While one would ask me a question and I responded, the other two were furiously texting on their phones. At one point, the HR person (one of the three) started smiling and chuckling. Presumably, they were texting about me?

  • By Jay 13 Nov 2014

    Studies have shown that multi-tasking decreases productivity and actually lowers your IQ by an average of 10 points. As much as I loathe meetings, if I am in one, I give it my undivided attention and leave my cell phone in my desk drawer. It’s the least I can do out of respect for the other participants. Why make meetings longer and less productive by bringing along my phone?

    Conversely, I am always astounded by people who pick up their phone and say, “I’m in a meeting and and cannot talk right now.” Why even pick up the phone? You’ve wasted everybody’s time and accomplished absolutely nothing.

    To paraphrase Dave Barry, “If you can sum up in a single word why mankind has not reached its full potential, that word would be meetings.” And he said this long before people started bringing cell phones to their meetings.

  • By Iftekhar Bhuiyan 10 Dec 2014

    I really don’t think using smartphone to take notes in a meeting is a good idea at all. Perhaps recording(audio) the total conversation could be a great idea. This would allow individuals to actively participate into the meeting. Simply go over with the recorded audio if he/she needs any re-cap from the discussion.