Laptops and meetings: an etiquette guide

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As laptops get smaller and lighter, it’s becoming more and more common to take them along to business meetings. Note-taking is a cinch, and it’s also a whole lot easier to access documents and look up information.

Not surprisingly, however (see: cell phones and public spaces), people are still struggling to come up with etiquette guidelines that are as sophisticated as the technology. Yesterday’s New York Times had a great article on the subject by Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer division. In some meetings, as Hachamovitch points out, “it just seems more respectful to leave the laptops closed.” On the other hand, he says, “if the meeting is covering a variety of areas and the conversation is moving into something I’m not involved in, I don’t feel too bad about catching up on my e-mail.” The Microsoft website lists seven rules for using laptops during meetings, advising businesspeople to “make sure there’s a point” and “use some discretion.

Personally, I tend to err on the side of caution and, well, politeness if I were giving a presentation, I’d want to know that people were paying attention! But my profession isn’t one that, like some, forces me to attend a lot of meetings. What are your experiences? Let us know in the comments.

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