Saturday, July 5, 2008

Vanity Meetings

Voldemort at Union Station What is the business equivalent of an alien abduction? What activity annihilates productivity and irritates the best engineers? The Vanity Meeting.

You know what I'm talking about. The attendees get locked in a room for some incomprehensible reason. Work grinds to a halt until speaker finally runs out of breath an hour or two later.

Symptoms of a vanity meeting:
  • everyone stares at their laptop instead of the speaker
  • thirty minutes are spent on a minute detail that 90% of the audience doesn't care about
  • there are more rat-holes than real meeting
  • nobody asks questions, OR
  • only one or two people asks questions -- constantly
  • no agenda was sent before the meeting
  • the meeting is automatically scheduled with no regard for necessity
  • the meeting is never less than the allotted time
  • the presenter has prepared "bonus" slides in anticipation of not using the entire meeting time with the normal slides
  • the meeting starts late because nobody wants to sit through the whole thing
  • nobody takes notes
  • attendees are selected by org-chart rather than necessity
  • slides are presented by someone other than the author of the slides
  • the presentation or discussion is vague and abstract
  • the presenter uses incomprehensible or undefined jargon
  • the scheduler individually addresses attendees but holds everyone else hostage for the duration
  • the scheduler doesn't pay attention in his or her own meeting
  • the meeting takes place after 4PM on any day, but especially Friday
  • the scheduler is late for his or her own meeting
  • the presenter shows the same presentation or artifact at every meeting
  • data is presented back to the people who collected it
Vanity meetings:
  • serve no business purpose
  • are used in the place of good documentation or real discussion
  • are often for the wrong audience
  • frequently get stuck in rat-holes
  • waste time
  • squander the focus of the attendees
  • make the speaker feel important
  • give everyone plenty of time to practice Tetris
  • take control away from the attendees
  • reduce job satisfaction
  • become infectious
  • institutionalize procrastination

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