Consortium meetings

27 Jan

I find I’m at my most productive in a consortium meeting. Get representatives of a dozen organisations in a room, close the door, put in a giant pot of dodgy coffee, and let the presentations begin.

As the faint sound of other people sending email ticks into my ears, I first think “That’s terribly rude. We should all be concentrating on this, we’re all spending time and money to be here, the poor sod presenting wants to get our thoughts and intelligence”. Then the slightly droning tone of the presenter lulls me into a trance state, and my brain kicks into gear.

Suddenly, I realise how to resolve the deadlock in the proposal I’m writing. That difficult email reply becomes transparently obvious. The other pages of notes in my notebook demand inspection, and insights into them abound.

Within minutes, I’m furiously sending emails, scribbling notes, pencilling in meetings and resolving crises – and starting a few for other people! The meeting flows past in a productive blur, until suddenly I realise it’s my turn to get up and speak.

I draw myself up and wander to the front. The entire room is tapping blankly into their laptops. I launch into action with a plosive remark and a quick quip to get everyone focussed and alert, breaking them out of their state of flow and ensuring they’ll pay attention to my presentation, which is of course the most important of the day.

As I reach the end of my presentation, I look round the room and realise I have committed the worst crime of the meeting. I have stopped everyone else from working.

(With apologies to my colleagues in today’s meeting…)

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