Don’t Make This Etiquette Mistake At Your Next Business Meeting


Why aren’t laptops welcome in business meetings?

  • The screen of the laptop is a barrier, blocking the view between you and the other people in the meeting.
  • There is no way to tell if you’re paying attention, or just checking your email.
  • The clicking sound typing makes is distracting.
  • Looking into the laptop screen means there is little to no eye contact with the speaker, or with the other people in the room.
  • It causes feelings of disengagement and discomfort.

What it boils down to is, laptops in business meetings are alienating. The person sitting behind the laptop usually has their eyes down and they’re typing away. It’s hard for the presenter to know if the note taker is listening or goofing off.

The goal of a meeting is to solve problems as a group. When someone in the room isn’t engaged in the meeting it takes away from the feeling of camaraderie. The other people in the room feel uncomfortable, and will be less likely to participate in the meeting discussions.

Here’s another reason you might want to reconsider taking notes on a laptop.

In general, typing your notes can be great for organizing them and sharing them with your coworkers. But researchers have found when you type information rather than hand-write it, you don’t learn as well or remember as much. An article published in, Psychological Science, (April 2014) called, The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” cites three studies that show note-takers who type their notes score lower on tests than those who write their notes longhand.

When typing notes in a meeting, you can get lost in just copying the words down, and not properly understand and digest what’s being said. This leads to less engagement, less participation, and a less productive meeting.

With all these strikes against laptops in meetings, why would someone still be tempted to bring one along?

In spite of the bad feelings people have about employees and coworkers typing notes on their laptops in meetings, these people still want a way to quickly take down notes and keep them neatly organized. Some other laptop features that businesspeople don’t want to do without are:

  • Autocorrect
  • The ability to quickly edit, insert, and highlight text
  • Easily add images
  • Keep the document looking nice and neat
  • Keep all work documents organized in one place
  • Easy access to other important documents or emails that could be useful during the meeting
  • The ability to share meeting notes with colleagues

So what options do we have?

We know that taking proper notes during a meeting is important. Using a laptop is poor etiquette but we like the paperless features and storage options that it gives us.

We know that writing notes by hand is good for meeting etiquette and helps us remember information. But the format is messy, hard to share with colleagues, and leaves us with mountains of paper.

What’s the solution for being able to take wonderful notes (making full use of the amazing note-taking apps and living a paperless and organized life) without ruining the atmosphere of the business meeting?

A Tablet with a stylus is a great solution for taking notes in a meeting.

A tablet gives you all of the functionality of a laptop without the features that offend people during meetings.

Since Apple introduced the Apple Pencil in 2015, people have started bringing more tablets into meetings to take notes.

The shape and thickness of these tablets resemble a pad of paper. They can also be held like a pad of paper, which won’t block the view from you to others or keep you from making eye contact with the people in the room.

As a matter of fact, using a stylus or Apple Pencil to take notes in response to what’s being said in a meeting actually makes you seem more engaged. It’s similar to the image you have of a reporter or an officer who is interviewing someone. They look at the person who is speaking and then write down what they say. You don’t question whether or not they are listening.

Here are a few more reasons tablets are great for taking notes in meetings.

  • You can write with a stylus instead of typing, decreasing any distracting noises, and increasing your comprehension.
  • It feels more natural in a business setting people are used to seeing someone take notes by hand in a meeting.
  • You can draw lines and arrows, makes notes in the margin, and easily add your own thoughts and ideas on the topics being discussed.
  • It eliminates the bulky rectangular barrier between you and the other people in the room.
  • You can take screenshots of charts or whiteboard displays that are being used in the meeting.
  • You can take advantage of the great note-taking apps on the market.
  • The screen can’t be completely hidden, reducing the chance that someone will be goofing off instead of paying attention in the meeting.
  • You can use the Split View and Slide Over features on the iPad iOS 11. (This makes it easy to use two apps side by side on your iPad. One for note-taking, and one for locating important documents, emails, or calendars.)

Besides all of the great advantages listed above, a tablet also gives you the ability to share notes with your coworkers by uploading to the cloud in an instant. Having all of your work documents organized and stored in the cloud means you won’t have disorganized file cabinets and lost documents. All of your information will be easily searchable and can be accessed on your smartphone or desktop if you have questions or dates that need clarifying, or you have a brilliant idea you want to add to your notes.

A tablet isn’t just great for note-taking, it’s a great tool for the person presenting the meeting too.

  • A tablet won’t block the view of the speaker. The speaker can look up and engage with the other people in the room.
  • You can create a sharable outline/agenda. This can also be a great template that attendees can use for taking their notes!
  • The meeting outline can then be used as an action list for employees.
  • The same outline can be used as a follow-up at the next meeting, to evaluate the completion of assignments.
  • You can save and share over the cloud, keeping everyone in the loop.
  • It eliminates the need for folders full of reports and papers. You can have it all at your fingertips, neatly organized on your tablet.

Pairing your tablet with a great note-taking app will make it your tool of choice for taking notes in meetings.

As more people use their iPad Pro or Android tablet for taking notes, the demand for great note-taking apps has increased. If you want to use a tablet with a note-taking app, you’ll need to find the right app for the job.

There are a lot of note-taking apps to choose from, each with its own unique features.
Some examples of popular note-taking apps are Notes Plus, Notability, Goodnotes, 
OneNote, Nebo, NoteShelf, ZoomNotes, Evernote, and many, many more.

You can check out, my reviews, of some of the most popular note-taking apps to help you decide which app is right for you. You can also look at my, Note Taking App Comparison Tool, to get a side-by-side view of some of the apps you might be considering.


In today’s meeting settings, using laptops for note-taking is considered bad etiquette. Moreover, taking notes by hand is cumbersome and adds to an unwanted paper mess.

In order to live paperless and organized, you need a way to take notes digitally.

Tablets with a stylus and a note-taking app are the perfect solution. The size and shape make them welcome in meetings. They give you a way to take notes by hand, share them with workmates, and keep them neatly organized.

Use my, Note Taking App Comparison Tool, to find the perfect note-taking app that will be compatible with your tablet and will fit your specific needs.

Then take it to your next business meeting and try it out. Leave me a message in the comments below and tell me how it works out for you!


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