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Conference Call Anatomy™

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A meeting is what happens when a colleague unilaterally asserts that his agenda is more important than yours. Though, of course, meetings can be benign and even fruitful — few of history’s monsters have been wholly without redeeming feature — convening a meeting is a profoundly political act and, however well-intended, most of what goes on in them has a starkly political aspect.

Meetings are thus best avoided, and any adept survivor will have developed detailed tactics for doing so. Like these ones.

Like a conference call, only without phones, it’s much harder (though not impossible, depending on how brazen you are) to multi-task, and impossible to go on mute.

“Important” meetings are often stewarded by a functionary from the COO office — a “project manager” or “workstream lead” —who gets to watch the the grisly proceedings up close, occasionally twisting the knife with an “innocent” question[1] or even going full Crazy Ivan.

Although nominally no more than a court clerk, a “PM” can skew their role to resemble one of the master’s attack dogs. Depending on the disposition of that person chairing the meeting, it can, therefore, be quite the cat-bird seat: rather like walking around the rim of a volcano in one of those big silver spaceman suits watching everyone else in tee-shirts and flip-flops hopping about trying to dodge flying magma.

Never, ever, to be described as a “meet”. “Meets” happen in swimming pools and on running tracks.

See also


  1. On a conference call, there are no innocent questions. There are stupid questions, leading questions and trick questions.