Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let's meet to decide on the meeting.

          With one exception, the most creative people I know in advertising love the work but hate the meetings. They see meetings as stressful, unproductive get-togethers where participants dance on their tongues.

           I once made a deal with one of the country's top art directors. He agreed to work for us at a greatly reduced rate if I would promise him he wouldn't have to go to meetings. I agreed and paid the price: I had to go to every meeting.

          Over the years I think I've mellowed and become more of a meeting person. I never used to talk very much (and not at all if somebody else from the agency would). Then I realized that it could actually be fun to present ads and commercials, and I became good at it. I remember a 9 a.m. meeting in Indianapolis where I had to present 18 television commercials to the executive committee of Gatorade. I didn't faint once.

           After presenting the work at a meeting, I want to leave the room. All the discussions, vacillating, bantering and posturing aren't for me. I'm not Judge Judy.

           But because I had to defend the work when nobody around could do it well, I became very lawyerly about it. I listened carefully and marshalled all my arguments.

           The better I became at meetings the more meetings I was invited to, and the more I bristled at them. I always wished I had a twin, separated at birth, who could go in my place and fill me in later.

           I did learn a lot, though. I learned how to yawn with my mouth closed. How to read upside-down when presenting an ad or a storyboard.

          And I learned at exactly what instant you had to say something or forever be known as a non-contributor.

           Ultimately, meetings are a part of business, so we have to get used to them. I certainly intend to.

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