I’m on a conference call, listening to the dread in each person’s voice as they “sign on.” This is supposed to be a call about a new change initiative, and everyone should be fired up. Instead, it sounds like they are the living dead, and need to have their head removed with a quick blow to put them out of their misery.
The meeting begins, and it sounds something like this:
“This is the beginning of our weekly meetings concerning the XYZ initiative. Before we get started, let me conduct a roll call. (A boring roll call of fifteen people begins, with people answering in zombie-like voices saying, “HERE.” There’s always the one funny person who says, “PRESENT.” Suddenly, the leader realizes somebody is missing).
Wait, I didn’t hear from Bill. Bill, are you on the line? Anybody know where Bill is? (This results in a 5 minute delay as somebody tracks down poor Bill who was probably in the restroom).
Bill, are you on now?
Yes, I’m here. (Bill sounds prematurely bored and humiliated at the same time).
Great, now let’s get started. Did everybody read the (extremely boring) ten page document I sent out prior to this meeting (prior, meaning one hour before the meeting started. Dead silence as everyone does work on their computer with their phones on mute).
Well, I’m going to assume you did since I requested it (now everybody’s stumbling through emails trying to find the document. Once found, they will read it while the lead zombie drones on).
In the document, I asked that you consider how you can best contribute to this change initiative Wait, I just heard a beep, has somebody else joined us? (No comment, which panics meeting leaders for some reason – perhaps there is a lurker on the line from another area). I heard another beep, did somebody just join?
(Finally, a reluctant zombie responds). Yea, this is John. Sorry. I keep losing the signal. Sorry.
No problem (this said after the frantic demand that he reveal himself). Before we get started, some of you couldn’t print the spreadsheet. Did anybody else have this issue?(A discussion of the printing issue ensues for about 15 minutes).
Anybody else wonder why there is a dread of these meetings? And how are they supposed to create energy and clarity for a change?
Next blog, I’ll discuss ways to create a more dynamic meeting, and I’d love to have your thoughts. If you’d like help create my blog for next week, answer this question for me:
What actions do you think help people avoid these zombie-like conference calls?