It’s been two years since I first posted this on my own blog. Things haven’t changed a bit since.
Netmeeting, LiveMeeting, WebEx, and a host of other online meeting tools are great. They allow people separated across vast geographic distances to collaborate and share information. Sitting at one’s desk staring at poorly prepared presentations with too much information while the presenter reads it verbatim off the slides may seem torturous boredom more fitting for breaking down interrogation suspects, but this style of virtual meetings present an opportunity that simply cannot be matched by the good old gather-in-a-big-room face-to-face meeting. First, there’s the mute button. Sing, curse, snore. No one will be of the wiser. (Make sure the mute button works.) Second, the PC that’s streaming all those wonderful slides over the ‘net also allows you to surf-while-you-meet. Check stock prices, read my blog, download MP3s. (Make sure to lay off the porn at work.) Or be even more revolutionary — get some work done.
Once in a while, someone will call your name while you’re trying to break your record on Solitaire. Perhaps you were sleeping and can’t really determine how long they’ve been waiting for an answer. Play it cool. Turn off mute and apologize for having left the mute button on while you were responding. Then let them know that the line was breaking up a bit and ask them if they will be so kind as to repeat the question. Then reply in generalities so that they will be forced to give you some more specifics at which point you should be able to clue in and give a real answer.
All in a day’s work.