The Anatomy of a Meeting

People who don’t work in Corporate America have this notion that all real business occurs in big meetings, held in big conference rooms, with big chairs, filled with people who have big egos. While Corporate America definitely has its share of these (especially the egos), most business occurs outside of this environment. Most business occurs in really small groups – often one-on-one – but usually no more than a group of a few people.

So, why do we have these big conference rooms with tables resembling those in U.N. buildings? Why do we have weekly status check meetings with 10, 15, 20+ people?

Courtesy Dreamworks

Why? Easy…to justify people like Cubicle George’s existence and to pad their egos. Really these meetings are no more than a way for people like George to strut like a rooster through the corporate version of the hen house.

So, for those of you who still think all the company’s problems are solved in these meetings, I thought I’d give you the blow by blow (unfortunately punches being thrown are way too rare) of  a recent meeting I attended.


Twas a random Spring morning in cubeopolis when the familiar “ding” of my Outlook reminder sounded. This was my queue to hit the Outlook’s version of the snooze button for a follow up reminder at the start of the meeting. No sense being early…

10:00 Ding!
Crap already? Ok must go to a conference room named after a national park. I’m always prompt. Don’t be early. Don’t be late. Hmmm, where is everyone?

Welp, I’ll wait.

A couple other people show up, but not the organizer. What was that college rule again? 15 minutes…no teacher…we’re outta here?  Something like that. OK, the organizer (aka Jackass) has 5 more minutes to show (hey time is money and we’re wasting it) else I’m outta here.

Jackass struts in. Shit – I knew I should’ve bailed. Oh well.

Jackass: Hi everyone. Is anyone online yet?
Coworker (CW) 1: There’s a bridge? We didn’t dial in.
Jackass punches in some seemingly random 27 digit code into the phone.

“I’m sorry that passcode does not exist. Please re-enter your passcode.” 

Jackass: What? Let me try again.
27 DTMF tones later…

“You will now be entered into the conference. You are the…4th…person to enter the conference.” “The other…3…people have been waiting for…10…minutes and are cursing your existence.”
Ok I addd that last part, but c’mon…you KNOW that’s true!

Jackass: Hi is anyone on yet?
All CW’s thinking to themselves: yes ass hat didn’t you hear Conference Betty say there were 3 others on?

Jackass: Ok so last time we talked about items 1-5 on this slide.
CW 2 (on the bridge): Are you sharing slides?
Jackass: Yes. Oh, that’s right, let me fire up the web share.
Bing Bong
Jackass: Oh hi did someone join us?
CW 4: Yeah hi it’s 4
Jackass: Oh hi 4. How was your vacation?
CW 4: It was great thanks <so wish I was still on it instead of in this meeting>.
CW 2: Hello…What’s the URL?
Jackass: Oh. I’ll send it to everyone.
Bing Bong
Jackass: Oh hi…did someone join us?
Jackass: Hi…did someone join?
CW 5: Yeah Hi Jackass…it’s 5.

Jackass: So, on items 1-5 we’re going to do the following…
CW 2: I still don’t have the URL. Can you just read it to us?
Jackass: I don’t understand. The email shows as “sent”. Can you refresh your mail?
CW 2: Yeah, still nothing.
CW 3 (also remote): Me either!
Jackass: OK, it’s
CW 3: Did you say xyz or zyq?
Jackass: XYZ! Crap this stuff should be easier?

So as I was saying, with items 1-5…
Bing Bong
Jackass: Hi someone joined?
CW 6: Hi it’s 6. Sorry I’m late (not really).
Jackass: Hi 6. We’re in National Park Room 2 aren’t you in the building?
CW 6: Umm yeah, but I need to take it from my desk (I’m not wasting my time in that room with all you fools).

<<Jackass continues with a complete rehash, redo, fully the same freaking thing he said last week on items 1-5.>>

Christopher Robbins/Photodisc/Getty Images

Bong Bing – And, we lost the first bridge person.
Jackass: Hi did someone join?
CW 2: I’m pretty sure that someone left.

<<Jackass meanwhile goes over item 6 for about 5 minutes.>>

Jackass: So CW 5, will you be able to complete item 6 before the deadline?

Jackass: 5?
CW 2: Musta been 5 that left.
Jackass: Well…I’ll follow up with 5 later and update you all next week.
All CW’s remaining thinking: Ugh must figure out how to get out of next week’s meeting.

3 CW’s in the room leave.
Bong Bing – Dunt dunt dunt….another one bites the dust…

Jackass: Well we’re running out of time here. Next week we’ll cover items 6-10.
Me thinking: yeah right, it’s been 3 weeks and we’ve only gotten to #5.
I. Don’t. Have. Hope.


Jackass: I’ll send out the notes from today and schedule next week’s session.
Me thinking: What freaking notes: Hi did someone join? Does anyone have any update worth more than the 1 dead and 4 half dead dry erase marker on the shelf?
Jackass: Thanks all. Have a great day.


And, that folks is how all too many meetings go in our world. Because of this I have put in place a couple of rules.

Rule 1 – No agenda? No CV in attendance.
If you don’t have an agenda I will not attend the meeting.
The only caveat is if the meeting was scheduled by my boss or my bosses boss. What can I say? I’ve got a big mortgage.

Rule 2 – Always, Always, Always bring the laptop or iPad to take notes so I’m well informed on action items that may be assigned to me so I can be the most efficient worker possible flip through Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and random RSS feeds.

P.S. If George schedules the meeting, ignore Rules 1 and 2 and join remotely from your desk even if the meeting room is down the hall from your glorious cube. Or better yet, just skip it all together.


About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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35 Responses to The Anatomy of a Meeting

  1. free penny press says:

    Yes sir you nailed it and let us not forget, the meeting to schedule a meeting..
    Oops, gotta go, 15 minutes to get to room 482.. where the hell is 482????

    • CubicleViews says:

      Ah yes, the pre-planning, pre-meeting meeting. Very similar to the “I can give you a date for a date” BS.
      BTW, room 482? You all don’t even have enough creativity to name them after a park…a monument…a President…a random endangered species? That’s said.
      Heck it’s not even an existing area code.

      I feel bad for you. But only a little.

  2. Sisyphus says:

    This. This about says it. I’m still pretty sure we work together. (only not really since we use a different online presentation suite) We have our conference rooms named after natural parks too. Although, if you schedule me for a meeting in Big Basin don’t be surprised if you see me wandering aimlessly about trying to figure out which room number coincides with Big Basin. Don’t just give me the name. Give me the number too Jackass!

    And if you don’t show up on time to your own meeting, and then obviously aren’t dialed in to/sharing your own slides … total amateur hour. If I was more powerful or anyone cared what I thought I’d totally call someone out if they did that with me.

    As it is I just take it and go back to my desk.

  3. That is so very true. The only thing that makes these meetings more painful is the usual asshoes that have “questions” which they pose in question form but are really more like observations and comments aimed at particular people or situations. They are usually the same “questions” everytime because nobody will validate or respond to them they way they want. I hate those people and their stupid meetings.

  4. Paul says:

    Don’t forget the meeting 30 minutes before that meeting to prep for the nonsense meeting…and then the meeting after lunch to recap the nonsense meeting. How else would the company function?!

  5. LMAO!!!!

    Okay, I am SOOO incredibly grateful about one thing about this company. Those meetings? Don’t happen all too often. And whenever they did they were always a terrible waste of everyone’s time.

    Thank you for this.

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  7. Absolutely correct! I used to help recruit attorneys and every single Tuesday, we had meetings similar to this in the beginning. Thankfully, some of the other Recruiting Committee members were as antsy as I was and had us in and out in 30 minutes or less. If you missed it, it was up to you to catch up via some other avenue.

    • CubicleViews says:

      Kendra, I feel for you, but see y’all handled it. For some reason, this is tolerated at my co. It’s a wonder co’s can do anything resembling productive work these days.

      If you all know of a co that is the polar opposite of mine and is fun to work at…email me…no really…and quick!

  8. Suebob says:

    The only part you forgot is “I sent out the documents last Friday – did everyone get a chance to read them so you can comment?” “Oh, no, I didn’t. Let me open them up and take a look now…”

  9. Michele says:

    I still think we work at the same company…

    I used to work at a place that named the conference rooms after bodies of water located nearby. My very favorite conference room was: Purgatory.

  10. I just had a meeting where, “Hi, who’s this?” was repeated every 3 seconds 9 times in a row. Not to mention the meeting blowhard…er…leader is a heavy breather. Nails. Chalkboard. Head. Desk. I’m off to the conference room Sorry (board game) for my next mtg. No joke.

    • CubicleViews says:

      I obviously feel your pain. Two words: More Whiskey.
      That and Baseball Bat.
      Whiskey dulls the pain. Bat can be used to beat the phone or the person saying who joined. Or both.
      Regardless, More Whiskey.

  11. workspousestory says:

    Ha, loved that post. I remember this to be exactly that when I was office-based… being field-based now has its undeniable allure I must admit 😉

  12. iasoupmama says:

    Love it! I don’t know what is more stifling — meetings like the one you described or having my office in the forgotten basement of a building. I can go days without seeing a soul… Kinda lonely…

    • CubicleViews says:

      Being locked in a basement sounds horrible…kinda like solitary confinement. Which begs the question, what did you do to deserve it?

      I kid!

      But, being isolated from many o my CW’s sounds like a dream come true.

      I think Charles Schultz said it best, “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.”

  13. Brilliant. I work for a global leader. I have to go to these three times a week, to discuss how Jackass thinks I can improve my productivity. I know how I can improve it by 3 hours a week real easy.

  14. Marie says:

    From what boring meeting did you write THIS post?
    hee hee hee

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  17. Godiva ATL says:

    You had me in frickin’ stitches laughing at this more accurate account of “Anatomy of Meeting” as it was like a day in my life as a Project Manager currently working w/folks who CLEARLY have ZERO home training nor the first inkling of business practices. Much needed laugh!!

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