Friday, February 11, 2011

One Day in a Meeting...

We once had a meeting with some important dignitaries. The dignitaries were in location A and we were in location B. We were about a 100 of us in location B and the dignitaries in location A could see us through videoconference. For almost entire duration of the meeting, the camera in location B was focused on the powerpoint which the dignitaries were referring to and for that duration, the dignitaries never looked at location B’s video.

Just at the very end of the hour’s meeting, a guy in location B pressed the switch corresponding to his seat (there is a switch in everyone’s desk used to enable the microphone so as to ask questions). What happens when the switch is switched on is that the camera starts to focus on the person who pressed the switch because the camera expects him to speak. But the person who pressed the switch had no intention of speaking. He merely pressed the switch out of boredom but was now suddenly shown on big screen visible to everyone in location A and location B instead of the powerpoint.

It just so happened that in the frame that the camera focused on the person, two ladies were also visible who were sitting in the prior row and these two ladies were dozing away to glory. They were dozing in such style that one could easily make out they were sleeping for the entire duration of the meeting. Their near-horizontal orientation in their seats gave evidence to the fact that they had not been hearing a word of what the dignitaries were saying since beginning. Safe in assumption that the location B’s camera was focused on the powerpoint and would not be wandering across the room, these two ladies had compromised on their vigil.

Murphy’s Law. For the duration of the meeting, the dignitaries never even saw location B’s video but at the exact juncture when the camera was focusing on the person (and the two sleeping ladies in the background), the dignitaries turned to location B’s video and asked ‘Any Questions?’ They saw the sleeping ladies on the screen and gave a wry smile while the audience in location A giggled.

Another person in location B had quick presence of mind. He immediately realized the gravity of the situation and pressed his own switch so that the camera shifted its focus onto him although he too had nothing to speak. A non-speaking attentive person is better than two sleeping ladies. Alas, this switch to the new person was not seen by the dignitaries. Someone in location A had asked a question and they got busy answering that question.

The whole incident was profound in several ways.

~ There were 90 odd people really attentive for the entire duration of the meeting in location B but still an impression would have been created in the dignitaries’ minds that attendees in location A were sleeping. What an irony.

~ The two ladies became a laughing stock of location A and a big embarrassment for location B just because some guy near them pressed a small red button out of curiosity and boredom! Butterfly effect.

~ Only one guy out of 100 had the presence of mind to act quickly; to press his own red button to save the entire location B’s reputation although in vain. And this person did not belong to senior management nor was employed as highly skilled. In all probability, his pay scale belonged to the lowest slabs in comparison to everyone in that meeting hall. And yet he did what 100 of us so-called 'skilled employees' never thought of doing.

No comments: