When is it Appropriate to Use Messaging in a Meeting?

When is it Appropriate to Use Messaging in a Meeting?

A message pops up on your screen during a meeting. Would it be too rude to answer it? Would you look too unprofessional? Will your coworkers judge you? The answer is, it depends.

There are certain scenarios where it would be perfectly fine to message during a meeting and other scenarios where the message could probably wait. When it is and isn't appropriate will largely depend on your team, your role, your project and the purpose of the meeting. So when is it right to use messaging in a meeting?

Emergency messages

If your message is in response to an emergency (whether it be work or personal), then there is little question about whether you should send it. And no, the fact that the coffee machine is broken does not count as an emergency. Of course, this still depends on the meeting, so hopefully you aren't presenting and can quickly step outside to send the message.

Time-urgent messages

Chances are that if you need to respond to a time-urgent, on-the-spot situation, it is more important than your weekly or daily meeting. Hopefully though you can avoid the situation by being more prepared ahead of the meeting and having already responded to any urgent messages.

(Some) work-related messages

This is a tricky one because it really depends on how important the message is. Some work-related messages are more important than others. For instance, it is typically best to reply to your boss.

If your message requires a full conversation, then it’s presumably better to wait. Don’t be that guy with their head deep into their laptop during every meeting. 

Messages about the meeting

It can be useful to reflect on a discussion while it is happening, or ask a question. If you don’t want to awkwardly talk over a coworker or leave the room to talk to someone, a message might be beneficial in this case. In many circumstances it can help the flow of the meeting.

When nothing’s going on at the meeting or the meeting hasn't started yet

If the meeting hasn’t started yet or there’s a moment of silence, we don’t think anyone’s going to judge you for being on your laptop when there’s work to do. In this scenario, it is usually suitable when the messages you’re sending are work-related.

The perk of messaging during a meeting is that it's brief and wouldn’t be as disruptive as emailing or making a phone call would be. It’s much easier to send a chat and still be an involved member within the meeting than it would be to write out an email, so it gives you flexibility. It isn't as rude to send a small message as it would be to spend the whole meeting on another task.

As a general rule, if the message is notably important or urgent, then you should send it.