No cellphones during sessions.  A good idea or an attendance deterrent?

no-cell-phone-zone-stock-corrugated-plastic-sign-18x24Whether you want to admit it or not, being accessible is addictive.  People are constantly being reminded to turn off ringers or electronic devices altogether, when it is not appropriate.  It is not often that you are requested to leave your cell phone behind, but should it be?

During general sessions, look around and at any time, you can see probably 20% of the audience looking at their phones.  Whether they are responding to emails, taking photos of the cool speaker that was hired or just bored and surfing Facebook, phones are deterring people from being 100% engaged with what is presently happening.  Companies spend a lot of money to fly employees to destinations, feed them, accommodate them in hotel rooms, and work endlessly on meeting content, when almost ¼ of the audience is not paying attention.

In order to keep up with technology, companies have produced meeting specific ‘apps’ to present content, locations of events and even be interactive by polling and asking and answering questions.

What if the norm was to “coat check” your devices or leave cell phones in your hotel room?  If you require attendees to be 100% present during the sessions without any distractions, do you think this would decrease attendance or increase disruption by resulting in attendees moving in and out of the room during sessions to check messages?

Although keeping up with technology is a must, at times it may feel like it’s working against us.  What do you think?

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