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Atoke’s Awkward Banter: Meetings? I’m Just Here For the Food

Atoke

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Is there anything more absolutely horrendous and time wasting as meetings? No, for real, I really want to know. I mean, other than those meetings where you can at least look forward to the small chops and crackers, where is the silver lining in the attendance of meetings?

Okay, maybe I’m being a little biased here; meetings are not all bad. The convening of people to discuss things for the forward movement of a project cannot be a bad thing. Ideas are bounced back and forth; strategies are formulated, and a plan for execution is put in place. Usually there’s someone at the meeting taking down notes, minutes to be circulated for everyone in attendance. You know, so you don’t forget what was discussed. Basically, reminding you of your task. Asides the notes taker, there’s also an interesting mix of people at meetings.

The chairman: Depending on the setting, this person is the convener of the gathering. He has just ONE job: keep the participants in check, on time and to keep the meeting on track.

The oversabi: This person always interrupts every point, has a something to include, and always has a point of objection. The oversabi is the reason why a 10-point agenda becomes a 25-point agenda.

The uninterested: This person just came for the tea and crackers. He has no interest in the discussion and keeps looking at the clock – of course in between reaching out for the biscuits. He zones out completely, and his blank stare is just legendary.

The do-gooder: Sometimes the oversabi does this, but the do-gooder is always anxious to let the room know he has been effective in the project goals and deliverables. He also makes sure he brown-noses all the important executives at the meetings. You never know what can come in handy during the next appraisal.

The sleeper: This guy is nodding off within the first five minutes. Depending on the level of experience, this dozer may cover his face with the papers handed out at the meeting, or just wing it and sleep his sleep jeje. Sometimes, he wears glasses… maybe he thinks we can’t see him.

The last-minute time waster: This person’s role morphed from the uninterested, but he is more annoying. His job is to remember he has something important to add, when the meeting is coming to an end. Usually, he has nothing valuable to add to the discussion, but he hasn’t heard his own voice since the beginning of the meeting, and he has to rectify this.

At one point or the other, I have been all of these. As you can probably tell, I am not a huge fans of meetings, and this stemmed from waiting long hours in the car, under the hot sun, waiting for my dad to finish Church Council, or Church-in Conference meetings. (Hi, IBC kids… y’all can relate) My aversion to meetings grew when I started working as a lawyer. Oh dear, Lord!

The law firm where I worked had one BIG client with offices in on Ajose Adeogun street, Victoria Island. Getting to the client’s office was always a tormenting experience. From the traffic, to looking for parking at the towers, there was nothing fun about going for meetings. I’d always beg my boss to ride with him, at least I didn’t have to drive. Of course, his car was nicer than mine, so the security guys wouldn’t give him so much grief about parking.

As a junior associate, it was my job to take notes, because I was required to send out minutes to everyone in attendance. Sounds easy right? Nah! Some people will talk so much, repeat themselves, repeat another person’s point, and then talk some more.

After the minutes go out, then one random person will feel the need to recap everything that was stated in the minutes. Thus creating a fresh round of email trail. Of course, there’s the scourge of the Reply All button, but that’s not why we’re here. 

Seriously though, jokes aside… is there anything that is achieved at meetings that can’t be done elsewhere? Meetings are the biggest time wasting device created; but my friend, Idowu* does not agree.

Idowu LOVES meetings. In fact, back then, she signed up for any meeting notification we received. It was a chance to escape being at her desk, doing actual work. If the meeting was at a client’s site, even better. The time spent to and from the meeting, at the meeting, discussing the reports from the meeting… all reducing her 40-hour week to just a flash.

My friend Tola* likes meetings at her church, because there’s always food. She excitedly goes for mid-week service because, at least on one day of the week, she won’t have to make dinner. Hello, To-Go bowl.

Another reason why people like meetings (and I’m number one on this line) is because it just makes you sound important. I raise up my nose, pad my computer bag and say “I was at a meeting”. Saying you were at a meeting as an excuse for not picking a call from someone you’ve been avoiding, just makes it feel like you’re about to send a rocket into space.

Meetings are the perfect justification for a multitude of sins. However, they’re a little better than conference calls. Listen, whoever invented conference calls needs to be seriously examined. He probably imagined that it was better than gathering everyone in one physical room; but if you’ve been on a 2-hour conference call, you’ll know that it is the biggest, most ineffective thing ever. Half of the time, I have the phone on mute and just continue working as people talk, talk and talk. Conference calls are even more difficult when you have a 30-point agenda and they’re slowly working down to get to your turn. So you’re just waiting, listening to aspects of the project that have absolutely no bearing on your work, or the time you’re investing. It’s like sitting at Ikeja High Court waiting for the registrar to call your case and you’re at the bottom of the cause list. ANNOYING!

Meetings were created by dickheads who really just want to be reminded of what they need to do. It’s either that or they were created by a control freak who likes to micro manage the team.

If you must meet and talk to everybody at once, keep the meeting short, biko! Office meetings are not the place for starting praise worship and committing the words of the Chairman and the attendants, to God. Close the meeting as soon as essentials are discussed. After all, productivity is not measured by how long you spend talking about how productive you plan to be.

Anyway, I’m off to my meeting. *Packs up laptop, raises shoulder up and puts phone on silent mode*

Let me leave you with this video by Trip & Tyler, of what conference calls are like in real life.

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore.Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

37 Comments

  1. TA

    March 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Atoke of life, thanks for sharing my disdain for meetings. Help me ask please, why are we meeting really? Can’t it be discussed via email? Tele-conferences are the worst absolutely. I work for a multinational, so colleagues dial in from all over the world and it could take forever to get to your turn (IE if you are presenting) and I’m asking myself if my contribution is not emailable? In a day filled with meetings, meetings and more meetings where on earth am I supposed to find time to do my work and implement actions from the meetings? My solution? Limit meetings to no more than once a week.

  2. Simi

    March 9, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with committing a meeting into God’s hands Atoke.

    • MsMak

      March 9, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      What happens if you’re an attendee and don’t believe in God? Or you don’t believe in the same God/god as the person committing the meeting in prayer? If you’re a christian for example, would you feel comfortable if Sango or Yemoja was called upon for their blessings?

      Can you see how this is not appropriate in an office setting?

    • evil monkey

      March 10, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      a meeting to rip off would be customers too?

  3. iyke

    March 9, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I don’t like meetings but lately I have found myself facilitating meetings and training for my team. It has helped me to understand and identify what I call the ‘noncontroversial essence’ within a team or group. And as a facilitator, it provides me with succinct clarity about what’s going on that helps me navigate to shore, to a collaborative outcome.
    Having said that, there is this Global project implementation meeting that I detest so much – Full of technicalities and held every Thursday at 1pm at my office – just immediately after lunch. Because am on a high protein/high fat low /zero carb nutrition, having a meeting immediately after lunch sends the wrong signals to my CNS. I always nod off…. An hour meeting looks like a 5 hour meeting. And at the end of the meeting, one of my over sabi Spanish colleague who doesn’t even know how to speak proper English would start asking rubbish questions to prolong the meeting….His name is Jesus Gonzalez…I hate him lol.He can ask stupid questions in Spanish English.And after that, my director will do a round table …For feck sake,….

    • Anna

      March 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Iyke,this is unrelated to meetings but i find your personality seen so far, very interesting and you sound intelligent as well. I”d like to be a friend.don’t know if you care to share your contact email but mine’s [email protected].

    • memebaby

      March 16, 2017 at 12:12 am

      iyke for president! Anna nothing do you.. shoot your shot!

  4. Deleke

    March 9, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    meetings are great, they are enlightening, informative and absolutely boring. Especially if your dear wife is giving a talk and you go as a supportive husband. I pretend like I am interested, yawn about as many times as my 3 month old cries in a day and I feign genuine interest during the networking tit-bits. Like I bloody understand what the effects of UK GAAP has on IFS 20, whatever the hell that means. Sometimes I think she punishes me to go along these meetings with her cos she knows I would be up to no good. Marriage is sweet

    • Tru

      March 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      ???? Love this!

    • Nuna

      March 10, 2017 at 8:21 am

      LOL Awwwww.
      Please dont stop attending with her ok. Glad to see such husbands who do stuff to make their wives happy

    • Tomisin Magz

      Tomisin Magz

      March 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Lmaoooooooooo this is so funny & sweet

  5. Ajala & Foodie

    March 9, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Ha ha ha… I am usually the uninterested that keeps everyone on track. I don’t have to be the “chairman” or the one that calls the meeting to try and keep the whole meeting as short as possible (food or no food). I am also the one that has worked out of meetings because I have something more important that needs to get done especially if I feel my presence is not needed.

    I have however come to learn that it pays to be the “do gooder”. In my experience these group of people (in corporate America at least) are the ones that get the opportunities and promotion. They call the meetings, and when they don’t, they are the ones that set up, volunteer to bring the snacks, and stay behind to clean up, just so they can be seen and rub noses with the right people. I am trying to learn to strike a balance, butt kissing is not my thing but like one “do gooder” once said to me, how will they know about you if they have had no reason to interact with you? How will they know what opportunities that may be of interest to you if they have not had opportunities to get to know you?

    Corporate politics is not for the faint hearted. and in as much as I detest meetings, I am beginning to learn their usefulness. I try to tell myself to try and enjoy be where my feet is I.e live in the moment and that includes meetings, although at times it is difficult ( I still catch myself spacing out).

  6. Ajala & Foodie

    March 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    *** walked out***** try to enjoy where my feet are ******

  7. Ms. Lurve

    March 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I just finished a meeting with a client that could have been replaced by a one paragraph email. Normally I’d be p*ssed but I got a cheque so yippee! I was supposed to have another meeting on the opposite side of town but my first meeting ran over by an hour no biggie but I didn’t let that deter me from using it as an excuse not to attend; there was no cheque at the end of that tunnel!

    I have noticed my younger clients tend to email and text, the older ones on the other hand can meet for Africa. There are a few outliers of course. My rule of thumb is if the meeting will not contribute to my bottom line directly or indirectly I’m out. I have spent too many of my youthful years in pointless meetings. Time to make real money abeg.

  8. Cynical

    March 9, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Atoke for president……???. My dear, i agree o. Most times meetings are a total waste of time. When the circular is being passed that there’s a meeting,I’m like who did I offend today. I am definitely always the Uninterested person. Meeting starts and then my boss starts going off at all tangents and you can’t even remember what you people are actually supposed to be meeting for in the first place.l just zone out and start thinking of what I’ll make for dinner. Nice article Atoke.

  9. Mz Socially Awkward.....

    March 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    did, returned feeling perplexed because it seemed the “meeting callers” only wanted a legit reason to order a business lunch on account.

    The “meeting callers” even happily reported themselves, oh…. apparently, their team in the client’s organization isn’t busy enough to justify ordering business lunches…. But they regularly see the drilling department signing off invoices for business lunch. So dem come dey plot for this lunch. And they genuinely thanked us helping to make it happen. Hilarious shenanigans.??

    Yes oh, this your list is very complete. In the case of my team, Mr. Oversabi was also Mr. Uninterested. As far as the world was concerned, he knew EVERYTHING about the industry (“Oh, this person? I used to work with him on the rigs in the early days. Oh, that thing? We used to do it very differently in the early days”). Otherwise, he added zero contribution. ?? The poor department administrator was often The Sleeper, as she couldn’t contain her boredom once Mr. Oversabi got busy engaging everyone in a useless 30min extension to the meeting.? Coupled with the fact that our Mr. Chairman was low-key scared of Mr. Oversabi & couldn’t curb the latter’s excesses…. For real, those regular team meeting resulted in the MOST unproductive days of my week.

    But you know what I detest more than meetings? Desk lingerers. Or as an ex-colleague disparagingly calls them – “time bandits”. At least, I can dodge a formal meeting by rejecting your Outlook invite and with the excuse of being busy…. But when you insist on physically bringing the meeting to the corner of my desk, all in the guise of asking a question that can be answered by a short, sweet email…. Haba. Why?? Why are you wasting my time like this??????? I can’t stand desk lingerers. My door is usually closed for good reasons.

    Saying that though, sometimes, the converse is the case & meetings are a good reason to escape my desk (“Oh, you sent an email? So sorry, I’ve been in a meeting”…. Meanwhile, I saw your email & knew it would induce headache, so I quickly opted for the meeting instead….). Or to get out of town. And Project Mangers, my beef with you is everlasting. When una get ts and cs, wey reach 100 pages, you go quickly fire am come my side – but when the client suggests a meeting in Rome/Paris/Copenhagen, na im una go remember say “we don’t all need to go, the contract can be negotiated via email”??? You have sense abi? Only you sabi good thing, not so??? Kontinu. Your karma is waiting patiently.?

  10. Mz Socially Awkward....

    March 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    [Dear BN, beht why did the beginning of my comment chop off? ;-( ]

    Atoke, you see that food-related motive? 2 weeks ago, we were invited to meet with a prestigious client (prestigious, oh!) at the client’s office & I didn’t go but those who did, returned feeling perplexed because it seemed the “meeting callers” only wanted a legit reason to order a business lunch on account.

    The “meeting callers” even happily reported themselves, oh…. apparently, their team in the client’s organization isn’t busy enough to justify ordering business lunches…. But they regularly see the drilling department signing off invoices for business lunch. So dem come dey plot for this lunch. And they genuinely thanked us helping to make it happen. Hilarious shenanigans.??

    Yes oh, this your list is very complete. In the case of my team, Mr. Oversabi was also Mr. Uninterested. As far as the world was concerned, he knew EVERYTHING about the industry (“Oh, this person? I used to work with him on the rigs in the early days. Oh, that thing? We used to do it very differently in the early days”). Otherwise, he added zero contribution. ?? The poor department administrator was often The Sleeper, as she couldn’t contain her boredom once Mr. Oversabi got busy engaging everyone in a useless 30min extension to the meeting.? Coupled with the fact that our Mr. Chairman was low-key scared of Mr. Oversabi & couldn’t curb the latter’s excesses…. For real, those regular team meeting resulted in the MOST unproductive days of my week.

    But you know what I detest more than meetings? Desk lingerers. Or as an ex-colleague disparagingly calls them – “time bandits”. At least, I can dodge a formal meeting by rejecting your Outlook invite and with the excuse of being busy…. But when you insist on physically bringing the meeting to the corner of my desk, all in the guise of asking a question that can be answered by a short, sweet email…. Haba. Why?? Why are you wasting my time like this??????? I can’t stand desk lingerers. My door is usually closed for good reasons.

    Saying that though, sometimes, the converse is the case & meetings are a good reason to escape my desk (“Oh, you sent an email? So sorry, I’ve been in a meeting”…. Meanwhile, I saw your email & knew it would induce headache, so I quickly opted for the meeting instead….). Or to get out of town. And Project Mangers, my beef with you is everlasting. When una get ts and cs, wey reach 100 pages, you go quickly fire am come my side – but when the client suggests a meeting in Rome/Paris/Copenhagen, na im una go remember say “we don’t all need to go, the contract can be negotiated via email”??? You have sense abi? Only you sabi good thing, not so??? Kontinu. Your karma is waiting patiently.?

    • Ms. Lurve

      March 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Looooooooool at 100 page T&C’s. The Rome/Paris/Copenhagen meeting (holiday) should have been your pension. I can’t stop laughing……. Loooooooooool

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      March 9, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      ?? As in, proper “penshun”…. I can even make the trip more productive by reading the contract enroute (whilst the rest of the team are ordering beers with lunch at the airport bar…. as dem think say we no know wetin dey shele on most of these “trips” ?) …. Biko, let the enjoyment go round! Instead of depriving me of some berra waka. ?

    • Jezebel

      March 9, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Me I can manage any meeting I don’t mind, the only meeting invites that make me want to dig my eyes out with the bottom of my pencil are HSE meetings. Yes, I know I should sit so many inches away from my pc and my chair should be in a certain position to ensure whatever you told me during induction doesn’t happen and ok I’ll bend at the knees to avoid hurting my back, I swear I heard the first million times, please, biko, don Allah, e jo o stop sending me HSE meeting invitations. Then you realize that your company’s oversabi is HSE manager ?

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      March 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm

      ?? HSE – the corporate nannies we all love to hate. Bless them.

      (but they get hella paid though ?)

  11. funmilola

    March 9, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I don’t know about office meetings(I just graduated from university) but church meetings are cool o with drinks and biscuits or cakes

    • Moniker

      March 9, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Church meetings? Wehdone ma

  12. titi

    March 9, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    meetings…. the bane of my existence and teleconference. I can totally relate . I was just having this internal conversation with myself on the need to make some days unavailable on my calendar. so peolle womt be able to invite me for meetings. i work for a multinational and yes I can confirm that teleconference have to be the most useless invention.as in people set up time to discuss something that can be done on email and considering the technicalities of getting g a suitable time for people in diff time zone only for the call to turn out to be a time waster. …….. I’m implementing a new strategy from next week. I can’t allow useless meeting s affect my deliverable o

  13. Anonymous

    March 9, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Management meetings are the worst! I get to sit in on those meetings just so I can take minutes and proffer legal advise where necessary. Every Monday at 10am, I have to sit and listen to everyone pontificate about how they intend to achieve “strategic imperatives” “95% equipment utilisation”, and such high falluting nonsense. I have to stay awake to get the gist of their oyinbo so my minutes reflect the discussions or else next Monday, one over sabi will say “The Minutes state COO and not CFO as I said last week”! Half of the time, they are just rehashing what they said last week oh. You all submit reports to the MD and copy subsidiary heads so why do we need to sit down for 5 hours to rehash what was in the report you sent out on Friday?

    Then you now have the many committees that public companies have to show due process – Procurement Committee (where procurement items cost more than certain approval limits), Tenders Committee, Disciplinary Committee, Cost Management Committee ati be be lo! It’s even worse because my company is a group of companies with 6 subsidiaries and they run a group legal system. So I sit in on quite a number of meetings every week and all minutes must be circulated maximum of 48 hours after the meeting. Sometimes, I think my Company is a microcosm of Nigerian government – there is a committee for everything!

    I love my job but I can do without the meetings and of course more pay!!!

    Going anon on this one because I have colleagues who visit BN and my moniker here is my nickname in real life.

    • nana

      March 10, 2017 at 1:22 am

      Haha what I do if I am the recorder of the meeting is put my phone on record and record all they said. Me?” I cannot come and go and die”.sit back In my office n write down.

  14. Splendor

    March 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    @iyke
    And what if your Mr. Jesus Gonzalez happens to stumble on your submission here? Why mention his name? Please apply discretion on issues of this nature.

  15. Tru

    March 9, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I HATE meetings. I always end up taking the minutes because I sabi English wella ???

  16. Marian

    March 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Great topic, as una like to dey use my comments to fry puff puff i no fit say more than that.

  17. Busarni

    March 9, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    @Iyke, seriously? That’s TMI na.

  18. Tincan

    March 9, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    I hate meetings!! I hate teleconferences!! I hate WebEx!! I hate late joiners!! I hate meeting extenders – please do me a favour, put a sock in it! I hate whiners and whingers in meetings. Whining and whinging is terrible enough as it is, when you condense that into this 1hr meeting where I already want to eat my head, I lose the will to live. I despise meeting extenders, don’t tell me we’ve got two minutes left and then try to fit in three agenda items, manage the bloody meeting better or leave me out of it. Arrrrrrrrgggggghh!

    I hate dead time which is what meetings feel like. I hate that I can’t multi task because chief meeting organiser will ask for my opinion just when I’ve lost the will to live and have navigated to BN. I don’t have an opinion, I just want to curl up and hibernate.

    Next, I HATE video conferences with a passion. Dear Americans, I really don’t want to see your chirpy, caffeine driven faces at the end of my afternoon. Please go away. Worse still, I hate video cameras. I’m sure they pick on me because I’m black. Stop. Following. Meeeeee.

    And lastly for the road, I now hate those self learn trainings, especially the ones with voice-overs and assessments. I managed to fail one two or three weeks ago. Six questions and I failed it 5 times and it has now referred me to an SME. Ohhhhhhhhhhh, the pain.

    This is what a working week where you spend 40% of your time in meetings does to you. I can’t actually get on with my work. So yes, I hate meetings and anything that smells like it. I might even hate work but this was at least cathartic. Thanks Atoke.

  19. B.

    March 9, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    I wish I had a job even if it’s just to attend meeting sef. Ya’ll are lucky.

  20. Nv

    March 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

    That video was hilarious!! Lmao!!

    Me, which one I know? Where I fine get job sef, ballay attend meetings? Nice write up!!

  21. OO

    March 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I thought I was the only one who hated meetings! Because we have not mastered the art of efficiency, most “naija-office” meetings tend to be time-wasters, psychologically/physically draining and unproductive! Thanks for this accurately adept piece! It’s my first time reading your write-ups and I must say it was well worth it. Cheers!

  22. loma

    March 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Is it just me? I actually like meetings, any excuse to leave my desk and do something other than coding is always welcome. I am the team member that’s always reminding others it is time for meetings…straight face. Guess you all hate me now.

  23. Adeola

    March 10, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Nice one Atoke had a good laugh and you are such a good writer.

  24. Kokoro Dudu

    March 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Meetings are necessary evils – then problem isn’t with the meetings itself but the execution. Appearing to be working when not. The sad part is even in the one man companies where the owner, who you could assume has more at stake than everyone, is the time waster!

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