7 Benefits to Ditching The Paper at Meetings + Events with a Great Agenda

7 Benefits to Ditching The Paper at Meetings + Events with a Great Agenda

We're deep into the 21st century, but you might not know it if you went to a meeting or event. There is still so much that is paper-based...fraught with broken promises of materials to be sent later or telling all participants to send separate emails to acquire materials digitally. If materials are handed out, the stacks of paper handouts usually end up forgotten in pile or waste space in a file cabinet. If you wanted to reuse, or refer to these paper presentations, you'd have to waste time recreating them.

This was a problem for me recently after attending an all-day conference sponsored by a few large ed tech companies. There were several presenters. No digital materials were handed out. Each presenter had a slide at the end of their presentation with information on how to reach them or their secretary to get materials. The conference organizer also say he could be emailed to acquire materials. What a waste of everyone's time. Rather than having the materials in the moment, participants would have to wait days or weeks later to receive materials. At that point, the opportunity to make the most meaning is lost.

I decided followed up on the promises and tracked down every single presenter and the conference organizer to get materials. After several hours of my time and several weeks, I had the materials that could have been provided up front. Most people wouldn’t even bother trying, but imagine if they had. There would be dozens of hours of everyone’s time that was wasted.

All this can be avoided by updating agenda methods to save everyone's time. The agenda for every event (meeting, workshop, seminar, conference) should be digital with all materials digitally embedded.

This means that the answer to every question when it comes to materials is: “It’s on the agenda.” Every presentation, handout, url, hashtag, contact information...everything, is on the agenda.

Benefits include:

  1. Save time: No one needs to waste time sending and responding to emails about materials.
  2. Find materials: Materials don't get lost as various email attachments
  3. Editable: Participants can make notes directly on the materials rather than separately on a paper document that they will likely never go back to, to transcribe.
  4. Get to Thinking Faster: When participants know they have materials they can get to the thinking faster because they don't need to take notes on what you are saying but rather they are making meaning of what you are saying because they have the materials.
  5. Information is Accessible: No more repeating or reminding people of hashtags, social media sites, urls. It's all on the agenda.
  6. Save Money: Forget the stacks of paper and folders. When you go digital you can even toss that old copy machine.
  7. Save Trees: Less paper = More Trees.

Think about it. If you've attended an event or have organized one, you know the promised follow up materials are often forgotten. Why even promise? Just do it once and do it right before the event and everyone wins.

Wondering what this looks like? Here are some examples:

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.