Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Guide to Being Successful : Holding Meetings

This is us in every meeting ever: “Man, this could be way more efficient,” “Why do they always feed us donuts when they know that we are all going to sugar crash in 15 minutes?” “Nothing is ever getting done. Ever. Seriously, ever.” “God, Jerry is snoring again. Someone put a napkin under his face so he doesn’t drool all over the table.”
Have you ever had an experience like that? Of course you have. It probably perfectly sums up how you spend 5 days of every week, all the while wishing something would come crashing through the ceiling just to give you something new to mindlessly stare at.
Well, today you are in luck! We hold the secret to having interesting meetings where decisions will be made and it won’t take 20 hours to do so.
We present to you, Alice and Quinn Teach People How to Hold Effective and Efficient Meetings.

Using food to increase attendance is the oldest trick in the book. This meeting conflicts with lunch? Don’t worry; we brought you a box with an airport sandwich and a cookie inside. Problem solved. The meeting tomorrow is absurdly early? Don’t you worry about that either; we covered that conference room in donuts and pastries and washed it all down with terrible coffee.
The basis of food as an incentive is brilliant. People love eating and they enjoy it even more on the company’s dime. But this can backfire on a large scale. There are a number of negative side effects that can be avoided, but are always overlooked.
  • Donuts are pretty cheap and they are a crowd pleaser. But they are also super high in sugar. While everyone is shaking in their seats for the first 10 minutes from the day-and-a-half worth of sugar they just consumed, the rest of the meeting will look more like 15 toddlers trying to avoid naptime.
  • We’re going to list delicious pastries and baked goods again, because there’s another important point to be made. Foods high in fat and sugar immediately segregate a room. There’s going to be a group of people who are trying to hide the fact that they hid 3 donuts/cupcakes/whole cakes in their pockets while washing it all down with a Mountain Dew, even if it is 8:00 in the morning. Then there’s going to be a group of very vocal people who couldn’t possibly eat a donut because it would ruin their very strict exercise routine, which will be outlined in detail, and OMG, I can’t even remember the last time I ate something that tasted good, let me just sip on my vitamin water. That’s an uncomfortable dynamic for everyone.
  • Especially for big meetings, eating causes ergonomic concerns. There is never enough space and people are concentrating harder on how to bend their elbows in the opposite direction to avoid hitting their neighbor (again) than what topic is probably super important or whatever to their job.
  • Providing coffee is such a cop-out for meetings. Sure, you could get complimentary coffee whenever you want from the break room, but we have it right here and you barely had to walk to get it. Plus, coffee makes people have to poo, and trying to hold it can be very distracting during a meeting.
With all of this going on, productivity and effectiveness take a huge hit. The only reason to use food in this way is if you aren’t prepared for your presentation and you hope the whole audience is too sleepy or distracted to notice you are really just reading the screenplay you wrote instead of working.
Here are a couple of the suggestions we have come up with to utilize food as an incentive, but also maintain optimum productivity out of your group.
1.        Save the food for the END of the Meeting.
Think about what we said above. We aren’t just talking about a boring boxed lunch sitting at the back of the room. We are thinking much bigger: Crock-pot Surprise or Panini Press. We particularly like the crock-pot idea for large groups. Crock-pot recipes are easy, and most importantly, THEY FILL THE ROOM WITH DELICIOUS SMELL. You know how your parents always said, “No dessert until you eat your vegetables. You can’t play video games until you finish your homework.” They use those ultimatums because they work, and let’s face it; we are all just overgrown children, especially during meetings. So we promote the “Get this meeting done/make decisions/solve problems effectively and efficiently and then you can eat this delicious food you smell” concept. 
2.        Feed them something messy, like spaghetti.
This sounds like a bizarre strategy, but hear us out. Have you ever had to hold a meeting for people you knew were going to be jerks the whole time? Or with people who are super judgmental? This is the perfect situation for this technique. If not strictly for your own comedic pleasure to watch jerks struggle with pasta sauce on their faces (or sloppy joe, whatevs. Get creative), this method will help level the playing field. Everyone is going to struggle eating messy food, keeping it off their faces and clothes, so the ones who are used to judging will have to deal with the fact that they’re being judged too. And no salad option here, ok? God, its whole wheat pasta, just indulge a little. Plus, everyone is going to want to rush out of the conference room to make sure they still look as flawless as they did before the spaghetti fiasco, so work gets done faster. This is the “Everyone is a Loser so we’re All Winners” strategy. With everyone on the same page it is more likely that things can be done in a civilized, efficient manner.
Music is used everywhere to enhance people’s feelings. Movies, TV shows, commercials, sleazy guys trying to put the moves on, etc. Music will make you feel exactly how She-Who-Controls-the-Stereo wants you to feel. We suggest utilizing it to your advantage. Of course, not everyone has the same taste in music, but we have a few ideas that should help with that.
1.        Use Disney Songs.
Everyone loves Disney movies. Everyone. That’s a scientifically proven fact. And the best part of Disney movies? The music. Obviously. There are people who will try to tell you that they don’t enjoy all the Disney magic, but those people are either:
a.        Lying
b.        Douchebags
c.        Lying Douchebags
d.        Living under a rock that was hurled here through space from a planet that is so technologically inept that Disney hasn’t reached them yet. Those people need their own special course in How to Live On Earth.
But Disney music is super relevant. They are really good at controlling your emotions and feelings, which is probably how they so easily took over the world. This means, of course, that you could temporarily hold that kind of power during your meeting. Plus, Disney songs remind people of their childhood, and will hopefully promote the desire to get things done quickly so they can go home and play.
2.        Use Pop-Punk.
This genre as a whole isn’t for everyone, but there are some songs that are universally loved and have just enough edge that they will put people in the mood to accomplish their dreams. Or rebel, you know, like punks do. It’s a fine line, tread lightly. We suggest sticking to something people will recognize, not some super-cool, obscure band that only toured garages and basements on the east coast. On the flip side, we also suggest introducing music from other countries. It probably won’t be familiar, but it may speak to someone’s lineage and provides some diversity. It’s also a great ice-breaker and way to get people to lighten up a little. dARI is a much-recommended Italian pop-punk band that we love and listen to on a regular basis. 
3.        Ke$ha, Ke$ha, Ke$ha!
Do we really even need to explain this? Ke$ha has mastered the art of creating a pop song. She’s like the McDonald’s of the music world. Even if you claim to hate it (which you are lying because you don’t), the tunes are so damn catchy that you are bound to be bopping and smiling along. Just keep the glitter out of reach; that stuff doesn’t come out of anything. That’s right, we are the crazy people.
Using this guide, you are bound to have the most effective, most exciting, and most-attended meetings in the office. And don’t you worry your fantastic little heads people, there is more to come.

Alice and Quinn 

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