How to Hold a Device-Free Meeting

How to Hold a Device Free Meeting

Have you been dreaming about having a device free meeting at work?

Are you looking for a way to stop being interrupted by buzzing tablets, chirping cell phones, and other digital devices?

Does the thought of just one more distraction, one more disruption, to an otherwise jam-packed meeting send chills up your spine?

Why not consider holding a device-free meeting?

In this post, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to organize and manage your very own device-free meeting.

A device-free meeting allows you and other meeting attendees to focus on the task at hand: your meeting!

This can be a refreshing change from the constant barrage of alerts, messages and updates that happen to grace many a conference room.

Schedule your meeting in advance.

As tempting as it may be, cherry-picking a meeting out of the blue for your device-free meeting is a poor decision.

For starters, your meeting attendees may not be ready for the change.

You may encounter some resistance or push-back when it comes to enforcing a no-device meeting policy point-blank.

The smarter route is to plan ahead and set a specific date and time for your meeting.

Which type of meeting should you consider for the great switch-off?

You may find it helpful to select a regularly recurring internal weekly or other small meeting.

Chances are, meeting attendees are fairly comfortable with these meeting arrangements and would be amenable to getting down to business quickly, and efficiently.

Give people fair warning.

As mentioned above, it’s good idea to present your proposal for a device-free meeting in as pleasant a manner as possible.

For instance, you could send out a brief email to your attendees a couple of days in advance explaining all the details of the device-free meeting.

You can ask people not to bring their devices to the meeting or to be prepared to completely turn off their devices at the start of the meeting.

To make sure everyone is on the same page, you may also want to send out a quick reminder an hour before the device-free meeting begins.

Do a group disconnect.

It’s the start of your device-free meeting. What should you do?

It’s a good idea to remind people once again that the meeting will indeed be device-free.

Kindly ask everyone to completely turn off any and all devices. You can instruct attendees to place their devices in the center of the table or tuck them away in their pockets.

You can also ask them to place them on a separate table or in a box in a far corner of the room.

With all those digital devices out of the way, you can begin your meeting in earnest and get down to business.

Be flexible.

Do you happen to work in an office or company where devices cannot be turned off during a meeting?

If this happens to be case the where you work, do what you can with what you’ve got. There’s great value in being flexible and accommodating.

If completely turning off devices isn’t an option, you might look into the possibility of temporarily banning devices from a small segment of the meeting.

Another option would be to ask people to set their devices to silent mode, so ringing bells and beeping alerts won’t disrupt others for the duration of the meeting.  

How about you? Have you ever held or attended a meeting that banned devices? What was the experience like? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

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About the Author


Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based productivity consultant who helps entrepreneurs manage their time and energy so they can reduce stress, work less, and make more money in their businesses. She has been featured in Fast Company, NBC News, The Washington Post, Business Insider, NPR, Huff Post, Fox Business, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.


  1. Yukiko Johnson

    I like the idea of this. It’s a fantastic practice and maybe outlining this as more of an etiquette issue that needs addressed at business meetings would be an option.

    • Rashelle

      Thanks. Yes, I completely agree with you and the subject of etiquette actually prompted me to write the post (I also wrote a post about this a couple years ago that you might want to look at: Meetings could be so much more effective and productive (and over that much more quickly!) if attendees are present and ready to participate…and not distracted. Thank you for your comment! Rashelle


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