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Cancel that PR meeting

11th July 2011

Meetings. Aaargh! Such a waste of time. Totally out of control, a major irritation for PROs the world over. Such a waste of a PR job. I’m always surprised FDs in agencies haven’t banned meetings as the time and money wasted beggars belief. 

In some agencies I’ve seen whole teams of people employed to organise the meetings. Think room calendars, coffee, biscuits, cleaning, etc ...

But no matter how dreary meetings are, be warned that trying to enliven them can backfire. In a previous firm we had a client who always looked like she was about to fall asleep in meetings, so a colleague decided to shake things up. A terrible decision was made (not mine for a change) to book a magician, and pretend this entertainer was a new member of the team working on the account.

As planned, my colleague introduced the magician to our client in the meeting, but things spectacularly failed to go to plan. The rather good-looking “magician” started to remove his clothes and drape them suggestively over the client. She screamed. A few more clothes were removed and she ran out of the room.

Alas, the entertainment agency had sent a stripper instead of a magician. I only hope some hen party wasn’t too disappointed!

It was certainly the most bizarre meeting I have ever been to. And we lost the client.

So no matter how dull you might find meetings, remember that it could be worse. They could be interesting for all the wrong reasons. But to stop your life being taken over by meeting overload, here are a few more practical suggestions for helping them pass quickly:

1. Cancel it. Do you really need to have a meeting? Probably not. Refuse to go and get on with some real work.

2. Try not to fall asleep. Distract yourself by mentally writing a shopping list for example. Although it’s easy to nod off, or even leave the meeting altogether, in teleconferences.

3. Fall asleep – you won’t be invited back.

4. Arrange it for a time that no one else can make. Then pretend you had it, fire round a few action points and you’re done.

5. Sniff and cough. People will want the meeting to end as quickly as possible.

6. Make sure that you specify when you have to leave the meeting before you start. And then leave on that mark. I use this one a lot to look busy and professional. Just don’t get caught having a cigarette outside Starbucks in the next half hour or so. 

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