Cell phones can be a challenge for every teacher and trainer these days. Here are some suggestions and anecdotes to set expectations in mature, respectful, or funny ways. Many of these were drawn from a series of LinkedIN discussions.
For the sales people I train, their phone is their livelihood and I must be sensitive to this. Because I train adults, I engage them in an adult conversation about it. At the end of the day, if not picking up the phone means they miss an important sale I’m not sure how happy the client would be about that. So I reassure that that I understand life goes on beyond the training room and if they need to make a call to reply on the breaks if possible or let me know up front if they have meetings and conference calls booked in the time span.
This seems to really work for two reasons, 1) banning things puts people offside and 2) if people do start disappearing then I know my content isn’t engaging or giving enough value!
“I like the idea of a temp/receptionist taking the messages, if this is feasible. Pre-mobile phones, I worked in a sprawling office where all senior staff had bleepers they were supposed to carry. A few were very good at giving them to their secretaries, prior to a meeting, and asking them to respond if necessary, with instructions as to what was urgent enough for them to be disturbed – same principle.”
In his article, 35 Ways to Use an iphone in a Workshop, Dwayne Hodgson takes a different approach to cell phones. He admits to being an iPhone addict and has come up with 35 constructive ways to use an iPhone during a workshop.
Some have techniques that may work for some but not others. These include: