Big day tomorrow

February 26, 2006

The meeting from hell is nearly here. 

Tomorrow I have to do a presentation after school to my department and sundry other staff.  I know that there are going to be a number of collegues present who are not going to like what I have to say. 

Quite frankly I know that some don’t want to hear it, but they need to.  They need to listen to what I have to communicate, think about it, discuss it openly, and then make a decision.  Similar meetings held recently in other departments have gone either very well or very badly.  I’m afraid that mine may fall into the latter camp rather than the former, especially as I’m seen as a safer target to express dissent in front of than other presenters.  I’ll be the person in the stocks on behalf of all those too powerful to be confronted head-on.

It’s also the last meeting in this round, which is always tough.  It’s the last chance to bitch and moan and make unreasonable demands.  The last chance to be a belligerent moron just because you want to throw your mass around in front of your peers, nevermind the poor schmuck who has to bear that weight.

What frustrates me about meetings is how people simply don’t listen.  Either they don’t pay attention or they hear only what they want to – either way your message is evading their grey matter.  I’m quite careful to try to do presentations in ways that engage people – in particular I use a lot of humour to hook people in and defuse tension.  Tomorrow will probably be the biggest presentation I’ve done so far in my career – perhaps not the biggest crowd, but potentially the toughest.  (Adults that is – I find the kids a different audience, with different challenges, but on the whole much easier to deal with.)

Maybe I should treat the staff more like I treat my students – pop quizzes with treats for the right answers, asking questions to probe their learning, having a break with a game if I seem to be losing their focus.  But somehow I think that would go down even worse than my original presentation, unaltered.  Teachers are a tough crowd; they know all the tricks.  But, surprisingly, when they have to talk to other adults they seem to roll out the boredom – in particular, declaiming in droning monotones that wouldn’t hold their classes for a minute but are apparently suitable for staff meetings. 

I just hope that they do actually listen tomorrow.  I know that some will have made up their minds before hand, and in some ways that’s ok, as long as they don’t monopolise the speaking time to a point where others get no chance to ask questions or voice concerns and opinions.

Sometimes I think audience members forget that the presenter is a human being too – they take it all out on the person standing up the front (I always try to sit if the group is small enough).  Sometimes “it” has nothing to do with the discussion at hand – maybe their car wouldn’t start this morning, or their partner didn’t do the dishes last night.  But I’m up there, with a big invisible “Bash Me” written across my forehead in subliminal ink, and I’m easier to confront than the car or the partner. 

Here’s hoping my meeting mojo is in full vigorous flower tomorrow afternoon – think of me around 3.30pm when I’ll be meeting my doom.


7 Responses to “Big day tomorrow”

  1. Dasher Says:

    And what happened?

    I’m all worked up – pacing the floor like a madman – wondering how it went!

    This is like sex without an orgasim – how to women manage?

  2. Ventoletta Says:

    Actually it went ok. I think there was a sense of inevitability, because people knew it was the last meeting, and I was quite careful about how I ran it, being aware of all of the above. They didn’t rip me limb from limb, recognising that I was just a messenger, so I was relieved. It was still exhausting – I don’t think many people realise just how draining running a meeting is – not just the talking but the tension.

    I didn’t really think about how much public speaking (to adults) my job involves before I took it on, and I used to be terrified of it – but now it is just such a part of my everyday life that although I still get nervous sometimes the only real side-effect I still get is to sweat a bit more than usual (too much information I’m sure), which is easily manageable.

    And by the way – why do you think women eat so much chocolate 😉

  3. Dasher Says:

    The same reason men do – it’s a sex replacement…

    Want some 😉

    Choc that is…

  4. Ventoletta Says:

    Don’t let my big hairy lesbian lover catch you posting that…

  5. Dasher Says:

    That’s the good thing about choc.. There is always plenty to go around.

  6. […] Last term I was told that there were to be some special meetings for teachers working in my main curriculum area, part of some consultation about new unit standards.  Now at my school the job of organising and running meetings of this nature often falls on me for a few of the local secondaries, so several weeks ago I asked the relevant HOD, The Beskirted One, if that would be the case this time.  She assured me no, that there were teachers from the actual curriculum workgroup who would be running them in many of the clusters, including ours.  But I did need to attend and be generally helpful.  All well and good. […]

  7. Florian Says:

    I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog 🙂
    Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day 🙂

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