Monday, July 10, 2006

Some meat about meets...
One thing I really hate about the corporate world is meetings. I get called into so many meetings, sometimes I wonder if I really need a desk to work out of; I might as well have my desktop PC located in one of the meeting rooms and work from there. And what do you know – it is the way to succeed. Whether you make a useful contribution or not in the meeting, your presence itself signifies that you are some important person. In fact I am keeping a count of all my meetings so that I can say during my appraisal that I attended 2138 meetings during the last 6 months – and therefore I deserve a bonus; and certainly a promotion so that I can order Good Day biscuits instead of the usual Marie types. And some hot tea while we are at it.

The reason I am complaining is that these meetings drag on. I am not challenging the role of the meetings in the day to day corporate world. I am cribbing about the way they are conducted. Meetings should be quick like Chinese takeaways. Not some coffee ritual in Eretria.

It takes ages for meetings to start. And by the time the chairperson reads out last meeting’s minutes, some hours have gone by! In fact the biggest challenge is staying awake during the “recap” mode in which no one is interested to listen but it has to be done because it’s the way meetings should be conducted.

Walk into any modern corporate office and you will find more meeting rooms than actual desks. You have all sorts of meetings: sit down meetings; stand up discussion meetings; conference calls; video conferences and off late voice mail meetings – where everybody just leaves voice mail to each other. At the end of it, it has become a game of Chinese whispers – the true essence of the discussion has completely changed by the time the last voice message is left. And then bosses wonder what has happened to communication in this age of technology.

The art of surviving meetings basically comes from your ability to keep yourself entertained. Like giving rings to colleague’s mobiles in the meeting and cutting it off before they can pick it up. And you keep ringing everyone till the boss yells. Try this too: smile at your friend and run your finger in circles around your head to indicate that the boss has a loose screw. Time it such a way that boss is about to turn to the table from the presentation he is making. Chances are your friend will agree and do exactly what you did and he will get caught. That will guarantee you 15 minutes of entertainment. And last but not the least, always take an inhaler to the meetings – they are the real life savers. If the meeting begins to drag on then you can start the “I have fever + cold” drama and people will ask you to leave before you spread the virus.


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