As a physician and parent, I have had the opportunity to attend many a meeting. Whether it’s a conference, a lecture or just an informational session, I have noticed that if these gatherings involve the general public, there will be 8 specific types of people. There will of course be you and the other normals that are just trying to gather information and be on their way and then there will be The Other 7 People You’ll Find at Meetings:
- The Inquisitors:Whatevermanner they do it, these guys ask A LOT of questions! There are actually 3 sub-types
- The Skywalkers: These people will ask the most insane, off topic questions. Their queries will literally have nothing to do with anything. But they’ll ask ‘em anyways, and they’ll ask a lot of them. A Skywalker has somehow been physically present for the entire meeting but mentally, they’ve been somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.
- The Alzheimer’s Constituents: This group’s only defense against an idiocy diagnosis is having short term memory loss. They will wait patiently to ask questions that have just been answered. They are also space-trucking. The A.C’s drive me insane. I want to scream “Haven’t you been listening? He’s answered that question 1000 times already!” I find this sub-type at parent meetings a lot. Asking things like “now, when will this be due?” after it has both been stated and a calendar put up on the power point. This is when the speaker will repeat themselves and mention politely that the dates are also on a list in the packet everyone has in front of them.
- The Frugal Interrogators: These folks will keep everyone in their seats long after the meeting should have ended by continuing to ask questions. They want their money’s worth! Every time you think you’re going to get to leave, another hand goes up and this goes on and on while you sit with all your belongings in hand wondering if it would be considered rude if you just up and bolt out of the room.
- The Undercover Expert: This individual is obviously an expert in whatever the conference is about. They stay undercover the whole time disguised as a member of the audience; just here to learn something too. Then when the question/comment portion comes around, they stand up and reveal themselves to know much more than anyone in the room including the lecturer. The Undercover Expert will often correct the speaker, and then add his own take on the subject. It always such a pleasant surprise to have one of these guys in the audience with you, looking out for you, just like Fox News; making sure you’re getting correct and up to date information.
- The Narrator: The Narrator will use question/comment time to tell a personal story which often only tangentially applies to the topic. Somehow they feel that we can all grow from their experience or perhaps they are attempting to bond with the lecturer by showing how they “get it” on a deeper level because they lived it, man, they lived that shit.
- The Joker: The joker is just that, he/she (but it really is almost always a he) will attempt to publicly joke with the speaker as if they are old buddies. This seems to give them a feeling of importance while they are actually viewed by everyone else as an annoyance. Listen up Rodney Dangerfield, there is no chance that this expert who was paid to come here and talk at you for 2 hours is going out for a beer with you after this. So sit down, keep your puns to yourself, and save us all the 15 minutes you just wasted.
- The Soccer Moms: These beauty queens usually present in pairs or triplets. They did not come to this meeting to learn anything. They came to socialize without their kids. They whisper and talk the entire time. They are completely oblivious to dirty looks or the stink eye. This is because they assume that everyone is just as enamored with them as they are themselves. So unless you are about to gush over their new purse or shoes, you don’t exist in their little self-centered universe. You’ll often recognize them as previous cheerleaders from your high-school or by their desperate attempts to appear 20-something
- The Angry Opposition: These people are just angry. They came looking for a fight. They don’t want to be there, they hate everyone who does but mostly they hate the speaker. They will ask trick questions, they will ask leading questions and then they will argue with the responses. They will make comments contrary to everything the speaker says. And often heckle quietly in their seats, just loudly enough for you to hear. In their spare time, the Angry Opposition enjoy calling customer service and sending their steaks back to the kitchen.
7.) The Micro-questologist: The Microquestologist asks very detailed and specific questions that can never be generalized to anyone. Even the lecturer will struggle to come up with an appropriate response. For example, if you were at a lecture on baking the perfect pie, one of their questions might go something like this: “Ah, yes, So I have a questions about the pie crust. Now, I don’t typically keep baking flour in my house, I do however have organic, magnetically sifted brown rice powder. If I were to use that with churned butter from unpasteurized cream obtained from free range, grass-fed only dairy cows, would I need to adjust the oven temperature since I live at 1500 feet above sea level?”
There is no escaping it. When group functions involve other people, you are bound to find these guys. The more I attend, the more I think on-line classes and conferences are looking better and better.