There are 37.5 hours in my work week. This past week, meetings took up 31 hours of those. The week before, not as bad since I was attending a conference, but the week before that 22 hours and before that 20 hours. The weeks before more of the same.

When I look back on all of those meetings, I can’t help but think there must have been a few, at least one or two, that didn’t bring any value to my day. Many of these meetings were in person, just as many were conference calls while others took advantage of video conferencing facilities.

Conference calls are a part of the business landscape these days. A great way to save business travel they say. A great way to be efficient they say. A great way to hold a quick, last minute meeting they say. I’m not sure who they are, but my take is that there are way too many distractions for these meetings to be effective. Sometimes a good long conference call allows you to close the office door and concentrate on your inbox or some other task. Often I’ll hear Dan? Dan?… you’re on mute, which is a polite way to say; we all know you are multi-tasking. We all do it and we all know we do it. It’s become a business norm.

Video conference calls are a little better but still a bit weird. You see gestures and expressions on the screen but they don’t quite match up with the words. Like an old martial arts movie. My colleagues are spread out across the country so we have these a couple times a week. This technology needs some work but has it’s benefits… they make me laugh.

The face-to-face meetings are a completely different matter. Very few distractions, real people, eye contact and the ability to see people’s expressions that can convey so many different meanings. The down side is that you are trapped, especially when bored.

Early in my current role, I remember being at meetings and not knowing what was going on. An uncomfortable feeling, avoiding eye contact lest someone misinterprets you glazed look as wanting to contribute. This is when you long for the conference call. It took me over a year to be comfortable in my current role but I still get those glazed looks now and then.

So I’m torn…

Conference calls are a great way to get something else done, Video conferencing is quirky bordering on hilarious and face-to-face meetings are much more engaging. They all have their pros and cons. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d say, all of them, just because I like variety.

I have to cut this short… I just heard; Dan? Dan? You’re on mute again!


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