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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Getting the Most from Meetings

From The Director in Charge of Going Forward to the Next Level

To All Departments

Another fiscal year has rolled around which means more meetings for everyone.  I'm sure you agree, that the one thing this company needs to improve its productivity, morale, and profitability is more meetings.  Two years ago, the theme of our meetings was "thinking out of the box," and last year it was "shifting the paradigm."  This year we'll be "taking it to the next level."  I'm sure you're all as excited as I am at the prospect of this exciting new phrase, and maybe just a little apprehensive but not to worry - we'll still be using the standbys you've come to know and love, "going forward," "best practices," and "at the end of the day."  Additionally the woman in accounts is still guaranteed to mention her former position was in California at least twice per meeting, and the guy with the weird squeaky voice will raise his hand at least three times to clarify a point that has already been clarified, so you will feel right at home.
We will continue to uphold our tradition of scheduling as many meetings as possible, but remember meetings aren't just an opportunity to daydream about the time you're losing from the finite quantity allotted each of us on this earth, time once lost you can never hope to recapture, or about horrible violent and ironically appropriate deaths for the speaker - no, meetings can also be a chance to nap, text-message, and doodle.  There are a few things you might wish to keep in mind as you approach this year's round of meetings.  To wit:
Doodling:  The Zen-like state of boredom induced by the endless monotonous drone of meetings is ideal for doodling, and yet recently there has been a significant drop-off of this practice, which is disheartening to all of us.  Many doodles in the past were quite amusing, and some of them, I believe, had genuine artistic merit.  Please don't be shy about expressing yourself on paper while your brain slowly turns to coleslaw under the relentless onslaught of jargon and verbiage from whatever idiot is up there yakking.
Napping: We ask you not attempt to take an actual nap in a meeting unless you are already expert in the practice.  Supporting your head in your hand as you sleep is bound to lead to disaster; sooner or later, your elbow begins to slide outward, and next thing you know, you drop your head and wake up with a start and a snort, and everyone knows what you were up to.  The fun of taking a nap in a meeting is leaving everyone guessing - is that person taking a nap, or is it possible he's actually so interested in what's being said, he's sitting in that position without moving for the last half hour?  Hunkering over your paper, a pen poised in your hand while you sleep is also prone to failure.  An escaping pendulum of drool is likely to give you away, and ultimately gravity takes over, and you bump your head on the table, again waking with a snort.  Therefore, we suggest you reserve all nap times until you're back at "work" in your cubicles and offices.
Text-Messaging: Technology has improved our lives in so many ways, and one of them is how easily we can entertain ourselves while someone talks about taking It to the next level going forward at the end of the day, or whatever the hell it is he's talking about.  When you text message, place your cellphone in your lap and train your gaze toward the table as if your were focused on the documents before you.  Another method is to prop a folder in front of you like a screen and place the cellphone on the table behind it.  Perhaps, text-messaging is taking the place of doodling, and I for one am sad about this, but we cannot detain the march of progress.  Therefore, I ask that you share your text-messages with each other to build a sense of camaraderie and community.  You might text each other derisive comments about the wardrobe, appearance, hygiene, or sexual habits of your coworkers.  Make bets about the number of times the accounts woman will mention she once worked in California or how many times the squeaky-voice guy will clarify an already-clarified point.  I feel this would be a much more creative and effective use of time than merely surfing for amusing kitten videos.
I think if we all heed these suggestions we will find our meetings more enjoyable and productive.
Thank you,
The Director in Charge of Going Forward to the Next Level

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