Meetings: Important to Whom?

Those who know me know that I am and have long been a zero-meetings enthusiast. I used to blame it on a short attention span, which I figured was also the reason that school became more suffocating to me every year I attended. It started in high school, when I learned how to expertly use every last one of my 12 permissible absences per semester while still maintaining passing (read: nearly perfect) grades. In college, the problem worsened to the point that during my last two years, I averaged about 10% attendance across all of my classes. Many classes I attended only on the first day and on exam days. And then I wrestled with myself over whether the first day was really necessary. I did not have a problem walking in, leaving my homework in the teacher’s hands, and walking back out of the room. As I did this, I made sure to take a deep breath of fresh air while the doors to the building swung closed behind me. My thoughts and prayers were with those countless captives now listening to the daily administrative agenda as I headed home to further my daily personal agenda.

I would imagine that nowadays, a student who approached school as I did would be stamped ADD and given the proper medications to fix it.

But the more meetings I skip at work, and the more crucial tasks I get done during those skipped meetings, the more I think that my loathing for meetings and classes is my subconscious’ not-so-subtle way of guiding me away from non-productive BS.

Now, I will readily acknowledge that there are some who learn best when they have a person standing in front of them reciting. But, for the rest of us, there is no need for classes that are graded on attendance, or meetings announced by an overzealous HR director or boss as “mandatory attendance.”

Objectively, which of these options make more sense?
Captive Audience
Option 1 — Information communicated by word of mouth. Information is delivered at the speed the orator remembers or reads it, in the way that orator chooses to present it. Information does not exist tangibly, so listeners must take notes, and then organizer those notes, to have the data, if that data later becomes relevant. Similar to commercials on TV: many nuances bombard you, few of them resonate.

Option 2 — Information communicated by a Wiki or web page. Information is presented in visual form, with clear delineation between topics and sections. Illustrations and cross-references are provided to be accessed on demand by learner. Learner can navigate information hierarchy to jump to whatever information is relevant to them, and refer to it at any future time to verify that they understand correct details when correct details are necessary. Similar to the Internet (uh, because it is the Internet??): learn what you want, when you want, how you want.

I point this out here because I think it’s important that others fight the teacher/boss/HR person who chooses audience captivity over audience productivity. That feeling of displeasure you have during a meeting? It is your subconscious productive side pleading for the madness to stop.

And if said teacher/boss/HR person has the gumption to remind you how “important it is for you to attend their meeting, like everyone else,” respond simply: “Important to whom?”

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