Today I’d like to share with you the four cardinal rules for conducting a bad meeting. This is an art form, ladies and gentlmen, one I do not bring to you lightly. If used correctly, these techniques can wither and ultimately dissolve any remaining work ethic and team identity your subordinates possess. With enough polish these rules will become an integral part of your work life, a glittering gem in the crown you display so proudly on your incompetent head.
So without further ado:
• Start late.
• Have no clear agenda.
• Finish late.
• Save your most important items for last when everybody else has already checked out and is playing with their phones.
Simple, elegant – much like the stroke of a master swordsman. And I know you’re just itching to swing blindly, aren’t you. But perhaps you’re still uncertain how to begin? No worries. Below is the actual transcript of a recorded meeting in which all four are used to dramatic effect:
I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic was just…whew! I just could not seem to get it together this morning. I am well aware that I’ve kept you waiting for… fifty-three minutes, and for that I sincerely apologize. I appreciate you waiting patiently. That shows dedication. Have a seat.
So today’s meeting has to…do…with….where did I put the briefing? Did you get the ones I printed out before I left yesterday? I thought I left them all on your desks. Please go back to your desks and check. I am sure I distributed them to you yesterday.
Not there? Oh, here they are. I had them. They were in my briefcase all along. Here- pass these out. Okay! Have a seat. No, wait. Everyone stand up and stretch! That’s it, yes. You all look tense. Side to side. Now forwards….and….backwards. Now I think we’re ready to begin.
Where is the cord for the projector? I know I brought it. I have a power-point. We will need to view the slides for this presentation. They are crucial for the understanding of the material.
Ah, here it is. It just…it goes into the side of the…the port, here? Like this? That is right, right? Okay. Give me a moment to boot up the laptop.
Alright! Okay…that’s my screensaver. Have any of you ever been to Bermuda? No? It’s great. You definitely should go, if you ever get the opportunity. That’s not the file. That’s not it. That’s not it. That’s not it. That’s definitely not it. No one saw that file, did they? Say no, or you’re fired. Ha ha.
Okay, here’s the power-point presentation! Let me…just….it’s loading. Okay it stopped. Does anyone know how this works? It…it just stopped. I don’t know. I…you…you got it? Okay. Great! Let’s begin.
We’ve got sixty-four slides to breeze through, I’m sure we can…oh, okay, our meeting time is nearly up, people. We’ll just tackle a couple and if we run over, we run over. Actually, in the interest of time, let’s just skip to pages four and seven. Let me get through to the right slides…no, no, no,no,no….no. Okay. This will have to do.
We’re running over on time. I am going to ask everyone to just review the information in the briefing at your desks on your breaks. It’s important information, people! Thanks for coming. Please make sure you take any trash out of the meeting room when you leave. Good job! Thanks.
My god, didn’t that just soften your brain matter? Sheer unadulterated brilliance! And you can do that, too! Never let another meeting go to waste. Make every single meeting feel like a kick in the teeth. I know you are capable of greatness. Prove it to me.