Saturday, March 11, 2006

Boring meetings

Why do boring meetings of little consequence dominate so many lives? A study suggests meetings cost £8bn in the UK annually in wasted time. Managers forced to many meetings become less productive because of their frustration over the waste of time. Humorous techniques have been enlisted to try to promote pleasure from these miserable episodes of life - e.g., when the boss makes an important point you make a sound like you are having an orgasm to emphasise tiour enthusiasm. Suggestions include trying to liven meetings up with video, reduce the amount of paper involved and (of course) to make sure meetings have a purpose. To shorten meetings or to exit them utilise your BlackBerry or other text-messaging device during interludes of boredom - this lacks etiquette but makes it clear the listener wants to move on. Alternatively pre-program a wireless PDA to extract you with a pre-programmed urgent call. At a minimum, if you are a meeting organiser, provide complementary benefits such as decent food, good booze or, even, take everyone on a cruise. And make sure there is a deadline and shut people up if they go on and on. The ultimate response to foolish meetings: Don't go.

Many like to hear the sound of their own voice and so talk too much. One might tax words or have a word quota but transactions costs are high and, in the case of quotas, one has to distribute them. How?

I got one suggestion for dealing with meetings courtesy of Nabakov over at the Catallaxy blog: Its called bullshit bingo. It might cost you your job but will shorten meetings.

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