A decent proportion of my job entails going to various workshops, conferences, forums and so on. I variously suffer through willing myself not to nod off to being actively engaged and not wanting it to end. The people I encounter are usually big on social justice so we are fairly like minded and mostly I find meeting these new people interesting.
But as sure as there will be a small dish of Mentos on every table, there is always one person in the audience who tries to take the lead in these events. Always one (sometimes more, depending on the size of the event) who has to try and focus on their own agenda or who thinks they know more than the presenter or who is just big pain in the backside.
Today was no different. Off I went to yet another local club (sometimes RSL, sometimes Diggers – I think these mean the same thing). I headed into the conference room and took my place. For reasons which I can’t explain, the attendees at this forum were an unfriendly lot but there was coffee so I found myself in a forgiving mood. Not for long.
I sat through a spectacularly dull presentation, deeply statistical and boring as batshit. The presenter read from a bunch of papers which were exact copies of the information laden and soporific powerpoint slides that were showing. When the second presenter got up and started discussing data and how this could be used in our industry, one woman got up on her high horse and that was the end of the structured presentation. Now, a skilled facilitator can reign these pains in the posterior in with a well-worded rebuttal so things can swiftly move forward. Alas, this mornings presenter possessed no such skill. The woman in question, the “one” if you will, banged on and on and on about things which both could not be impacted upon and could not be changed in this forum and yet she went for it anyway. I slid down in my chair and prayed for mercy.
Finally we broke for morning tea and I was briefly soothed by coffee and a piece of cake with a pleasant, although unidentifiable flavour. The minute we got back she started in again, brought a few cronies along with her for the ride and the entire timetable got blown out by an hour. At 12.25pm the facilitator announced we would be stopping for lunch in five minutes time. This seemed to spur the “one” on and it was another 30 minutes before we finally ground to a halt.
Popping Mentos at a rate of knots just to stop myself shouting “Oh for Christ’s sake will you be quiet!”, the whole experience was really rather painful.
There should be some sort of “one strike and you’re out” situation where anyone who goes on for too long, or who purports to be cleverer than everyone else in the room is red carded and escorted from the premises. It certainly would make for a more time efficient and pleasant experience for everyone. Well me anyway…