Talking and typing saves time

According to Microsoft, using a laptop in a meeting is “as much an element of business meetings today as any piece of equipment” – although the company does share some vital etiquette on avoiding being seen as discourteous when typing away.

Unlike in the US where it seems common for students to use laptops in class, I rarely see their use in the UK, and only know of one person who takes meeting notes on his PDA.

Away from all the discussion about whether people are really using their laptops for surfing the Internet or catching up on emails (which is unlikely in the UK where wifi access is woefully inadequate), I’ve decided it has to be more productive to type than write  (my typing speed is actually somewhat faster than 120wpm, where my shorthand was never better than 80wpm, when I trained as a secretary some decades ago). 

So a few weeks ago, I decided to use my laptop to make notes during a new media training workshop – only to be confronted by an attendee who found my typing to be distracting and asked me to stop.  This was really annoying – not least because the venue hadn’t even been able to provide online access, despite the subject matter of the day.

Whilst I took up my pen – and frankly began scribbling thoughts for a blogpost on how rude some people are – this woman’s mobile rang and she then proceeded to text, which struck me as much more distracting.

Anyway, not to be deterred, I have persevered with using my laptop in meetings – especially those where my role is to produce minutes.  In the last couple of weeks this has involved four PR meetings – and for each I have been able to produce and distribute minutes in a fraction of the time it took me previously to decipher my handwriting.  To be honest, part of the motivation was the fact that I’d been unable to get around to producing minutes from a number of meetings earlier in the year and found it nearly impossible to work out what had been discussed from my scrawled notes.

So far, no-one has complained about me typing in these meetings – although I confess that being able to touch type means I can lay the screen back and avoid hiding behind it.  And, of course, as a busy woman, I am adept in the multi-tasking required to listen, type, and contribute to the discussions (and eat biscuits of course)!!

In fact, everyone has commented favourably on the approach, recognising that it saves me considerable time and enables them to get the report of the meeting much more quickly.

Indeed, not only did I attend a MIPAA committee meeting this morning, but I’ve typed up and distributed the minutes, done my weekly shopping and found the time to write a blog post.  Can I count this as working smarter?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.