Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meeting Purgatory

Our lab meetings are typically two (painful) hours on a weekly basis. Our meeting style is a blend of the worst attributes of the meeting styles described by Candid Engineer: meandering, disorganized meetings that serve primarily to update the PI on the recent activities of the two or three people scheduled to present. Actually,  I'm not sure that "present" is all that applicable, as the typical example involves a student reporting the state of their experiments verbally, without any visual aids beyond a whiteboard drawing or two. Occasionally someone will bring a laptop and show a few pictures or videos, but a talk with an outline that was written before the meeting began is very rare. Inevitably, the conversation becomes an exchange between the PI and the student speaking. A few  individuals have been known to fall asleep in the middle of the meeting. 

Today's meeting topped all of the others on the scale of painful. Only one student presented information, and he even managed to drag the laptop across the hall to show us a few images. When he seemed to be wrapping up around the 45 minute mark, I was excited. Then the presenting student started showing us a few images from the trip he took recently with his church group to a South American country. Initially, I thought he had prepared a little slideshow for us in the style of  'what I did on summer vacation' report. This struck me as odd to begin with, but the truth was worse. It soon became clear that he was showing us every single image he had taken during the two weeks he was abroad. Every. Image. We say many, many images of small children, mountains and rural animals. One hour later, we were finally released. 

Next time I need to think on my feet and find an excuse to leave when the first picture comes out.

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