How to own a meeting

9 Mar

I know you lot. You are professional, talented, motivised, enthusergetic and driven to achieve your short, medium and long-term career ambition goal targets. Of course you are. That’s why you’re reading this blog.

So let me give you a little bit of advice on how to get to the top faster. (Not as fast as me, obviously. It took me just 17 years to go from marketing manager to marketing director. This is unprecedented in the world of marketing and has never been repeated.)

I want to help you do the one thing that will make you stand out against the herd of moronic dickpipes you work with. I want to help you own every mothershitting meeting you attend.

Is this toolbag really owning this meeting? No. One of those other dickpoles should seize the moment and shout something like 'PROFITABILITY!' or get their tits out.

But what does ‘owning a meeting’ mean? Simple. It means that no matter what people went into that meeting room to discuss, they leave talking about you. YOU!

So, what’s the first thing you need to do when you want to own a meeting? You need to prepare, right? You need to research the subject of the meeting and be as informed as you can be when you go in, right?

WRONG!

Planning to own a meeting just means you’ll look like a fucking know-it-all spunk flannel who’s got an answer for everything, never looks flustered and seems to have a finger on the pulse of everything affecting the business. And who wants to look like that? YAWN! No. Owning a meeting Knockles-style means being spontaneous, thinking on your feet and – ideally – having a few cheeky pots of booze-flavoured liquid at lunch. (This will help you stay loose and improve confidence. Remember – they say the English are always two drinks behind the rest of the world in terms of confidence. So if you have four drinks, you’ll technically only have had two drinks, if you apply international standards, which you should.)

So, you’re in the meeting room, people are filing in, things are about to get going. What do you do? You look for a dominant position.

This means at the head of the table, to the right of the chairperson, or, best of all, standing imposingly behind them, just a little too close for their comfort. (I always measure it like this: if you got an erection mid-meeting (which can happen) then if it poked them gently in the ear, you’re the right distance away.) I always find that lurking menacingly behind someone while they’re trying to do something constructive with a room full of people will always undermine them.

Why do you want to undermine them? Well, that’s the first tip! Try to undermine absolutely everything the chairperson is saying, always. If you’re standing right behind them, you can do this simply with sarcastic facial expressions or obscene hand gestures, but any method is fine. If you’re sitting with everyone else, you can interrupt, chortle, wear an almost-disgusted look of confusion that lets everyone know you’re thinking ‘What? What the fuck are you talking about, you incompetent cuntslice?’ This makes you the king / queen / transgender monarch of the meeting. Never mind the dickbottle who’s trying to run the meeting and achieve something for the company and blah blah blah. His inability to own the meeting is his problem, not yours. You’re just doing the Dave Knockles Do, right the way to the top of the tree!

She's lurking right behind the guy trying to run the meeting, where she's free to make faces, shake her head at everything he says and mouth the word 'Wanker' constantly. She's owning the meeting!

How about owning a meeting when someone tries to own it off you? What if some fucker is trying to own your meeting? Well, it’s time to go nuclear. The very nano-second you think your authority is being challenged, do one of these three things: 1) smash your fist on the table and shout ‘FOCUS!’, 2) stand up very suddenly and hiss the word ‘Waaaiiit!’ while looking to the ceiling as though receiving divine inspiration, 3) start quietly repeating the word ‘agenda’ again and again and again while poking the printed agenda in front of you, making a kind of semi-audible wall of sound that will, if you keep going, make everybody stop talking and look at you, at which point you can say, ‘Can we get back to the agenda?’ (It doesn’t matter if you were on the agenda, incidentally. People are usually so amazed at how cool your are they just stare and, occasionally, get up and leave.)

Everyone is looking at you! Congratulations! Consider this meeting owned! By you. Not that dirty old boiler at the Nobo. Everyone knows she let Phil in sales bend one through her fudgehole in the disabled bogs on seven.

What about meetings where you’re the lowest member of the food chain? This only happens to me these days when I’m in a meeting with my MD, Big Andy Poleman, but you, being corporate plankton, probably struggle with this a lot. My advice is to avoid the obvious. Don’t do a load of research and try to sound clever or useful or like you’ve got potential. They’ll just nick what you said, claim it as their own and you’ll still be floating about at the bottom of the cesspool in five years. You need to get on their wavelength – which probably means golf, birds, beerz and, if the mood of the meeting is jocular, stories about the time you shat yourself.

By way of example, let me tell you what I said as a marketing manager at my first board meeting back in 1988. The CEO had just told us the sales figures and asked for ways we could improve them. I’d had 8 drinks (by international standards) so was very keen. So I said,

‘Never mind improving the sales figures – how about improving your swing? From what I hear, you’re so short off the tee, you might as well use a cunting snooker cue! It’s probably that fucking bird of yours, isn’t it? She’d sap anyone’s strength – I bet you bang her till she snaps, don’t you? Jesus! The fucking tits on it! I bet your wife would take one look and say, ‘Fuck me – fair enough. Carry on!’ The boys reckon you putt like a parkinson’s sufferer too! But that’s because you drink like a fucking fish, innit? I opened your desk drawer and it was like a fucking branch of Threshers in there! There was more booze than I drank when I shat myself all over the barman, barmaid, manager, waitress, customers and passers-by at the Dog & Hog! Aaaanyway, I think we could look at some short-term promotions to give the numbers a boost.’

And just 16 years later, I was Marketing Director. (It might have been sooner. Turns out that after the meeting my CEO’s wife left him, he was ejected from his golf club and shunned by his colleagues, his heavy drinking descended into full-blown alcoholism and he lived the remaining five years of his life under a canal bridge in a turnip field in Kent. Oopsie!)

Those are just a few ways to own a meeting. But however you do it, own it you must! Otherwise, you’ll just be another stupid prick trying to get ahead by being good at your job.

I am Dave Knockles! And I own your meeting!

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