Kool Derby

I was invited to a planning meeting as a subject matter expert (SME). For this particular session, there were only three meeting attendees. I arrived about five minutes early, and proceeded to the assigned conference room. Mike, the meeting coordinator, arrived shortly thereafter. The other SME was running late, which gave Mike and I a chance to chat.

Although Mike called the meeting, he didn’t remember my name. It was also unusual that he would lean back in his chair, stretch demonstratively, and yawn uncontrollably. This was an afternoon meeting, so he should be wide-awake by now.

I get a weird feeling about people who are too relaxed during a meeting. What are they trying to show? Why do they lack the initiative and smartness to conduct themselves in a professional manner? I suppose he felt superior to me, which gave him the privilege to feel like he was lying down in his living room couch.

While we waited, we had a short conversation:

Mike:  So … what’s your background?


[Mind you … he invited me because I am a subject matter expert in planning global projects. Yet, he wasn’t sure about my credentials. Weird!]


Me: For the past decade or so, I’ve worked on global IT projects. My expertise is coordinating the efforts of global talent to create custom solutions for clients in the United States.


Mike: I see. How long have you done this kind of work?


[I did just say a decade, which usually translates to 10 years or so. I guess he wasn’t listening.]


Me: This type of work has kept me busy since around 2002. Once I have a clear idea regarding requirements, I look for the right resources to get it done. Technology has made it possible for people from around the world to collaborate and work on projects.


[Finally, at 2:10 p.m., the other SME (Dave) walked in, and the meeting formally began.]


Mike: Dave, I was talking to, uh, uh …


[Mike looked at me … not remembering my name.]


Me: Jimmie.


Mike: Yes. Jimmie and I were talking, and here is what we would like to do.


Although it took two weeks to coordinate our schedules for this meeting, the session required only 20 minutes. In fact, a phone call would have done the trick. There was no reason for Dave and me to drive more than 30 minutes for a meeting that was completed so quickly.

I was unimpressed with Mike because I felt that he was “big-timing” me. In other words, he gave the feeling that he was far too important, and that he was doing us a favor by meeting with us. The yawning and forgetting my name was unprofessional.

What is the point? When you ask others to invest their time on a project or other work effort, you need to value their contributions. As a meeting coordinator, you must be prepared for the agenda items, and look interested. The yawning and lackadaisical attitude must go. There is no place for it in a professional environment.

At minimum, you should make sure and remember the names of people that you invite to your meetings.