12 things to do at an all-day meeting
Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2008 at 9:32am
2. Check your BlackBerry, but never when someone superior to you in the pecking order is speaking.
3. Draw on the pad provided on the corporation for your take-away.
4. Go to the bathroom, but never while someone on a higher branch of the corporate tree is tossing apples down from his or her great altitude.
5. Eat and Drink. Food will be provided at certain times, and coffee, cookies and berries at other times. Do not eat throughout the day. This will make you feel sick by 2 PM. And watch out for too much coffee, which can produce a variety of bad behaviors over the course of an entire 8-hour session, depredations ranging from overly-aggressive posturing to psychotic need to get out of the room and use the facilities to an extent that is inappropriate and noticeable.
6. Present findings. At some point, presumably, you will have to provide a reason for those in the room explaining why you are there. If you are senior enough, no such rationale is necessary, of course, but for many this will mean taking the floor for a time. So always go into these things with a small agenda for yourself and make sure it gets played out, even if it's not germane or useful to the rest of the gathering.
7. Feign interest. Options include: nodding, assiduous and ostentatious note-taking, occasional exclamations and eye contact with others.
8. Avoid sleep. This is more difficult than it looks for some of us afflicted with meeting narcolepsy. Solutions include: a sharp pencil in the palm (if overdone, can lead to blood poisoning, which is certainly not sleep but should probably be avoided), the drinking of beverages both hot and cold, the acquiring of foodstuffs and/or implements, strolling around thoughtfully, leaving the room while glaring at one's BlackBerry to simulate crisis mode, even, when all else fails, light dozing with one's eyes open, a skill that is mastered only by those with long tenure in the realms of gray.
9. Entertaining use of wireless communication. Many is the long meeting these days that is lightened by continuous passing of digital "notes" to guys in the room as frizzed out and bored as you are. Dangers abound, however. Particularly to be avoided is joke-related sniggering while deplorable financial performance is being discussed by the CFO.
10. Hobnobbing. During breaks, you may have the opportunity to rub shoulders with guys you rarely see outside of these things. Don't forget to do so. These interchanges may in fact be the actual purpose of the meeting. All day-long sessions have a subcutaneous reason for being -- team-building and camaraderie. So laugh and scratch with the boys and girls. You may make a friend. And you know what those are worth these days.
11. Do breathing and stretching exercises. This may include extending your foot to touch that of your neighbor, but only if she is very cute and at least on the same pay and grade level that you are.
12. Collect ALL your "notes," that is, sketches, rude graffiti, inelegant detritus, etc. NEVER leave your space festooned with evidence of what you were actually doing during the time allotted. I've seen quite a few people wrecked after leaving behind a scrap of paper featuring a hilarious and derisive a doodle of the chairman, complete with horns and drooling fangs. People get childish after a while, even at such serious and essential events. Leave no evidence of your inner child behind.