Meeting Survival 101

We all have professional quirks. Mine?  i become deeply irritated with people who fall asleep in meetings.  It’s rude and unprofessional…

…and sometimes damn near impossible to avoid, especially after a long night of drinking and silliness with colleagues day of travel.  Such was the case today.  I found myself pulling every trick from my arsenal to keep my head from nodding like a dunking bird.  Much to my surprise, by the end of the day, i’d actually stumbled onto something useful…

First were the easy ‘standards’ — mostly “mathematics-based”.  First, count ceiling tiles, then calculate the square footage of the ceiling (no calculator, that’s cheating!).  The advanced version of this includes calculating the square footage of ceiling tiles, which means subtracting lighting fixtures, air vents, etc.  Today’s tally?  572 square feet of area, with only 488 squre feet of tile (big lights, lots of vents!).

The next tactic is more practical — calculating the volume of the coffee urn. If you remember your geometry, V=Bxh.   The really important calculation involves determining how much coffee remains in the pot, but this requires more vigilance.  This is particularly useful if you are trying to snag the coveted ‘second-to-last’ cup, which provides something less than sludge, and side-steps the obligation to make the next pot.

Burning through the math tricks, i moved onto the category of ‘playing games with my body’.  No, not like that…. that’s in my arsenal of ‘tricks to get fired’.   This involves bio-feedback.  For example, i tried to will my left leg to go to sleep.  After failing that, i attempted to convince my stomache to rumble.  The more advanced version of this is to entice your intestines to generate some aromatic effluent (for use in the elevator later).  But i tired of this as well.

Along these lines, i practiced crossing my eyes – one at at time.  This is one of my favorite stage tricks, primarily used for comedic roles and death scenes.  I was concerned that the others in the meeting might think i was having a stroke, so i quit that after a few attempts.

From there, on to the arena of “fantasies about the other attendees”.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single ‘do-able’ human in the room.  Senior level geeks and dinks, preening, snoring, drooling and pontificating about obtuse technical minutae couldn’t be any less attractive unless they all had festering open wounds, so that wasn’t the game du jour.  Instead, i opted for the ‘undershorts’ game – where i guess what kind of underwear is beneath the suit.  It started off ok: “boxers, boxers, briefs, Depends, boxers, commando…..” Ewww…. i stopped before i got to the gent who i’ve always suspected wears his wife’s lacy panties.  This was not helping.  Back to math…

The most demoralizing of the games: What’s it costing?  If you estimate salaries for all attendees, and factor in travel/support costs, it is always alarming.  Today’s meeting, fairly high level muckety-mucks, was pricey…. almost 30 attendees, 8 hours, 20 traveled in for the event.  Over $40,000.  Yikes… makes the eyes water and the brain wander.

“Holy Budget Hemorrhage, Batman!  What kind of amazing Video Teleconference (VTC) capability could i purchase for that kind of scratch?  Even the best VTC systems don’t really work well where interaction is required…” 

[light bulb goes off over my head – bright enough to nearly wake up the man sleeping next to me]

Eureka!  What if we take the best of interactive gaming, and turn that into an ‘active avatar-based’ VTC system?  Kinda like “Wii Meetings”?  Each attendee would have an avatar/”Mii”.  All attendees would wear a simple sensor, which would allow the avatar to mimic body movement/posture.  When the attendee gesticulates, the avatar moves too.  Sleeping?  The avatar’s little head starts to nod.  An eyeroll?  Hey, isn’t that the best part of a meeting?  Looking around to see who your allies are when the windbags are dropping steamers on the conference table?

So, by the time i was done writing all this down, it was 6:00 pm, and the meeting was over! 

In addition to my clever ‘invention’, i also added a new tool to my arsenal.  Spending part of a meeting furiously jotting down your daily blog post, with a serious look on your face, will convince your colleagues that you’re the most clever and engaged person in the room.  Which is ok, until they ask you for a copy of your notes on the way out the door…

18 thoughts on “Meeting Survival 101

  1. Another trick? Bring a Tootsie pop. Count how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop. Because that stupid Mr. Owl, he has some screwed up idea that you can lick twice then crunch down to get to the center. I don’t think so. How many licks!!!!

  2. Ah yes, the “jotting down notes” trick. Very important not to doodle, otherwise people will know you’re just fucking around. I once tried to compile a list of people who might attend my funeral, but that got depressing, because the list ended up being embarassingly short.

  3. uw – around these dinks? they’d calculate the volume of tootsie pop molecules removed per lick and then argue endlessly that my experimental results were inaccurate. yeah. i know. i was the one calculating the volume of the coffee urn. but there’s geeks and then there’s geeks!

    kyknoord – what’s a good abbreviation for your name. i’ve been drinking scotch for 3 hours and it’s hard to type all that… oh, yeah. doodles. i used to play ‘dots’ and ‘tic tac toe’ with myself but it was overt. had to quit.

  4. While reading this post, I pictured you sitting there, calculating ft^2 of the ceiling and L^3 of the coffee urn in your head and, and… uh… Wow! Uh, yeah, picturing this techno-math geek with a taste for scotch and JD, who swears like a longshoreman and thinks wearing coveralls with pasties glued on is a fashion statement (of sorts… c’mon, work with me here)… Jeebus Kee-rist! I haven’t been this turned on in a long time!

  5. If sleeping at meetings (even of the church type) is good enough for ex-presidents then it’s good enough for me……I love a good sleep at work……but not so easy when you wait tables…not impossible……just not easy….

  6. nm – the guy with the most drool…

    Mark – and i thought i didn’t get out much!

    toby – um, uh… ditto?

    4nik8 – would look good on a vanity plate for my shitmobile… but alas, it would never make it past the crack (addicted) folks at the license bureau.

    az – crap. now i feel a teeny bit guilty. but this wasn’t a meeting i volunteered for – i was ‘sent’. staying awake was the best i could do.

    manuel – welcome to the park. i promise to continue to eat my meat rare. tempting to wear a neck brace (to prevent the twitch) and just paint my eyelids, but that’s a bit creepy…

  7. az – there was a post in the spam queue… the gods of the ether are just behaving radomly. i’ll have to check more often. maybe if l ever get my laptop out of ‘useless fucking brick’ status!

  8. Comments with links in them often end up in either spam or the moderation queue. I’ve got my discussion option set to allow two links per comment, but they sometimes still go astray.

    Anyhow, that C&H cartoon made me think of you …

  9. Pingback: Post of the Week » Blog Archive » Shortlist for the week ending 1 February 2008.

  10. Pingback: Meeting Survival - Graduate Level Course « Trailer Park Refugee

  11. Pingback: Phun with Phyzikz… « Trailer Park Refugee

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