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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Hijack a Meeting

by Dustin (bio)

image via Flikr

Mormons do meetings. Lots of them. Three meetings during Church with break-out meetings during the meetings, meetings before and after the block, meetings during the week ... meetings to coordinate those meetings. There is no end to our gathering and this will likely never change. We are a people who congregates and does so often. This culture of meetings means that we have a higher chance of being well-coordinated. It also means that opportunities are plentiful for meeting-sabotage.

Meeting-sabotage occurs when individuals knowingly or unknowingly take the power in a meeting, often without warning. Meetings are prime territory for power struggles, although in our oftentimes meek Mormon culture, the power usually goes and never returns.

As a career teacher, below are several tricks of the trade that often get deployed in my classes. I haven't yet found effective means for rescuing meetings or classes after these weapons have been discharged, but I enjoy witnessing their skillful use. Whether you are a teacher or student, recognizing these implements and learning how to effectively manage and/or utilize them can yield immense power in the classroom or cultural hall. Use them wisely:

#1 The "Just Real Quick"

This phrase immediately excuses a comment of any length, regardless if it's actually quick or not. Use it to introduce a topic, derail a conversation, or free-flow a monologue. For optimum power combine this move with "I was just going to say" or "I was thinking." For example:

Tami Teacher: "So let's move on to the Beatitudes."
Paul: "Oh, just real quick before we move on ...
Tami: "Oh, uh, yes Paul? Something to add?"
Paul: "I was just going to say that I think there are several reasons why camels wouldn't fit through the eye of a needle, logistically speaking. First ..."

#2 The Linger Longer

Unlike the meeting of the same name, where individuals who can't get enough of the three-hour block mingle in the gym for additional hours and partake of pots of luck, this move actually consists of asking a question or offering an unsolicited comment when time has already expired. It's most viral use is at the end of a testimony meeting and is best accompanied by a quick dash toward the podium. But it also has some relevance at the end of a lesson when class is clearly coming to a rapid ending (e.g. I've always wondered, what's the meaning of "eye of the needle") or as a meeting is wrapping up (e.g. I'm just curious, before we end, if we are going about marketing the fundraiser in the right way?). This move requires some intuition to gauge when the meeting is headed for a close. For optimum power, combine this move with the "Just Real Quick" like so:

Timmy Teacher: "Time's about up, but thank you again for all your comments today. In the nam ..."
Matt: "Oh, just real quick before we head out, why are there seven sealed books in Revelations and which is most important for us to understand?"
Timmy: "Oh, uh, well ... errrr ..."

#3 The Off-Subject Derail

This potent tool is best used to undermine a lesson's flow. It consists of drawing attention to an unrelated point or topic and then watching mayhem ensue. For example:

Jillian Structor: "And so the children of Israel built a tabernacle to remember their covenants. Moving on ..."
Phil: "How much do you think that thing weighed?"
Jillian: "Hmm. Not sure. But probably a decent amount. So anyway ..."
Carl: "Well, I mean, if it was made of gold, that would be pretty heavy. Where do you think they mined the gold?"
Jillian: "Well, I'm not sure. But they probably had access to it."
Ronald: "I think they probably mined it back in Canaan, right? Or maybe from Sinai? Or maybe they just melted down their gold earrings!"
Pete: "Whoa! That would be nuts!"

#4 The Add-On

A pungent tool for disarming a hapless teacher or a particularly engaged congregation, the Add-On consists of adding a question to someone else's inquiry, leaving the group to wonder which question they are supposed to address. It also requires the teacher to sort through the confusion. For example:

Tammy Teacher: "So in D&C 4, what is meant by girding your loins? Umm ... Patrick."
Patrick: "Yeah, and how do we know if we are carrying 'sheaves on our backs' or not?"
Tammy: "Hmm, also a good question. Sandy?"
Sandy: "And are there really many called but few chosen?"
Class: {Silence}.

These are but four of the most potent tools. Have you witnessed other take-over tactics or strategies for retaking the class or meeting? Share them below!

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