12 things to do at an all-day meeting

The Last Supper

1. Sit.

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.  

11 Comments Add Comment

Re #3: If no one can see your pad (or if everyone who can see it is in the same boat), try writing or drawing simple shapes with your non-dominant hand. It's difficult enough that it should help with #8 as well.

Re #5: Eat that bagel or muffin one pinch at a time. I don't care how hungry you are. Consider it an exercise in discipline. The food is the best thing that's going to happen to you in this meeting. Make it last.

Re #8: I was once caught falling asleep in a meeting my third day on the job. The big boss called me out on it. I jerked awake and said "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I was trying to go without coffee today." This led to such consternation and amazement at my valor that my gaffe was quickly forgotten. Feel free to use this yourself the next time you get caught. Might be a little tougher to pull off if you have a coffee cup in front of you, though.

Re #12: I've seen some careers damaged when people picked up their legal pads too casually and a couple of the sudokus or crosswords stuffed inside floated out to say hello.

(I tape mine down.)

Explain that you can concentrate better if your hands are busy--then knit while pretending to listen.

Bing, you ARE a naughty boy!

I thought that I was alone in the affliction of meeting narcolepsy. That has hurt me a couple of times, and its always "my fault". Now I pinch myself relentlessly (with fingernails) to avoid this problem.

13 Sit there and smile as you think about using a death ray, for people who want to talk minusha and drag a boring meeting into an eternity.

14 list all those attending and score them by how many times the boss rolls his eyes when they make their presentation. This will help pass the time and make you look like you really care.

I like that - knitting

That used to be what smoking in meetings was good for back before the second-hand smoke nazis took over.

Very good tips. I have learned the great ability to space out while looking like I am paying attention. I can do it for hours on end. Has helped me through many a meetings

Oh, and I forgot to add...

#13 Make a list of things to do in an all day meeting.

Brilliant stuff that comes from the mind of someone who has spent WAY too much time in these situations.

Trickle down meeting feed-back.

1. B. of D.s to CEO COO CFO; we must improve bottom line.
2. CEO COO CFO to sraff; control costs.
3. Staff to directors; improve efficiency and cut Waste.
4. Directors to dept. heads; we're over budget.
5. Production manager to superintendent; control down time.
6. Superintendentd to General foreman; document all written reports.
7. General foreman to foreman; cut scrap and repairs.
8. Foreman to workers; "PLEASE BE MORE CAREFUL. OK?
9. Workers; they're starting that crap again.
10. Workers to inspectors; your damn gauges are off.
11. Inspectors scrap tags with report forwarded to Quality Control Manager.

I'm reminded of a song that was popular in the fifties about General Custer; one line goes: "Please Mister Custer, I don't wanna to go. Please Mr. Custer, please don't make me go"! This song is in reference to "Custer's Last Stand"!!

Just call in sick. Any company that has all day meetings will not be long for this world and your job will be outsourced to Outer Mongolia and the next meeting will serve yak meat. Use your sick day, to google Ulan Bator. In the event you failed to call in sick, use the meeting to plot the downfall of the bigger bosses and your promotion to super top brassdom. Then and only then will you beable to share your wisdom with the disinterested meeting goers.