Are you about to pull a couple dozen people away from doing real work to have a chaotic group telephone conversation that could easily be replaced with a couple emails? Well you’re in luck – I have organized a How to Guide for:
How To Host the Worst Teleconference Ever
1. Set the meeting time for at least an hour, even if the discussion only requires ten minutes. Let’s set a precedent right up front that we’re gonna fill that whole hour with something or another, even if people are busy. For extra Irony Points, start off the meeting by complaining that people are too busy with all these damn meetings to finish their action items.
2. As a display of dominance, it’s ideal for the host be fashionably late. This will let all the attendees listen to a few minutes of classical or jazzy Muzak hold music until the host arrives. The music will get their minds right and soften the blow of your upcoming terrible event.
3. If I know anything about a party, I say “More the Merrier.” Invite every person whose name you can remember to your call, but single out one person for a conversation. While the group listens into your conversation, try to calculate how much salary/minute you’re actively wasting while everyone watches you have a discussion that should have been a 1-on-1 call.
4. People like surprises, so don’t give any agenda in advance, and let the conversation stray into random topics. Let the meeting take musical and organic twists and turns, like freeform jazz. Let the meeting ninjas go crazy and hijack your timeslot to talk about something else. While people skiddlybop and doobopshebop into random subjects, encourage their behavior with followup questions that have nothing to do with the subject line of the meeting invite. If someone says “Hey wait. Which meeting are we in?” then you win.
(Side note: For more meeting surprises, you can also organize meeting overlap by accidentally sending out someone else’s conference code, and end up with two simultaneous meetings on the same call.)
5. Instead of hosting the meeting from a meeting room, be adventurous! People enjoy trying to deduce where you’re located based on audible clues, like the ambiance of echoes from your bathroom, random car noises, and barking dogs. Random noises can spice up any meeting. For extra points, yell out your order to the Starbucks barista without using mute. “No, not extra foam! I said no foam! No… foam… It makes me farty!”
For some extra audio quality, you can also get some amazing noises into the group line if you try to use a computer without a microphone. The feedback screeches and echo loops are memorable and exciting. If a real phone is your only option, use the speakerphone function so it sounds like you’re yelling at everyone from down the hall, around the corner, through a waterfall two blocks away.
6. If you must mute, be sure to have some really funky/groovy hold music going. People like a musical intermission (as previously explained, it gets their minds right.) For extra points, come back and announce that you’ve been talking to the group for the last 5 minutes, but were on mute the whole time.
7. Instead of capturing the meeting’s discussion in notes or a followup email, just let that conversation drift into the winds of varying recollections of different memories. Nobody wants to have their action items publicized – c’mon man, don’t be a square. This will leave the opportunity to repeat the entire meeting over at some point in the future, and give a chance for all attendees to reexperience your terrible hosting experience all over again!
This is a followup blog to http://buffman.net/blog/?p=801