I was at a conference last week and somebody said –
No, wait. I have something important to say. I wish to petition the Devil. Beelzebub, Lord of Darkness – I want a favour. I assume certain people have a special place in Hell. Mass murderers. Conmen who swindle old ladies out of their life savings. The man who came up with ‘paperless office.’ May I add one more?
Once upon a time someone designed a chair. Hotels the world over bought hundreds of these chairs and stuck them in their conference rooms. Then people were invited to sit on them. All day. Through desperately bad speeches. With the air conditioning not working.
Satan, when the designer of that chair is delivered to you, just roast him a little longer, will you? Turn the spit a little slower, fan the flames a little higher. Make him suffer. As I suffered. As thousands of conference attendees have suffered thanks to his never-be-comfortable-again-after-20-minutes chair…
Right, where was I? While I was squirming on my chair, someone came out with that legendary piece of business nonsense:
55% of information in a presentation is visual; 38% is vocal and only 7% is the actual words.
We’ve all heard it, we’ve all heard people who are paid large amounts of money repeat it. Let us be honest, it is complete and utter rubbish. Yet now it seems to have entered the business world as a “truth universally acknowledged” – if I may take Jane Austen wildly out of context. And it’s a truth even more universally acknowledged when you’ve been squirming in the world’s most uncomfortable chair for four hours.
But it simply cannot be true. Anyone who thinks it through for half a second knows it isn’t true. If you want proof, go to Google and type in Mehrabian Myth. The trouble is, some time in the next six months you’ll be in a meeting and a speaker will say, “Studies prove that 55% of the…” Have the courage to stand up and say something.
Let’s hope he doesn’t mention the coalface. Because then you’ll be on your feet again. “I’ve been talking to the guys at the coalface.” No, mate. You’ve been chatting to the useless lumps in the IT department. Probably about football. What else? “We’re going to pick the low-hanging fruit.” Roughly translated as, “We can’t be bothered to do any real work.”
Am I the only one who thinks I might shortly have to reach for the blood pressure tablets? Feel free to let off steam. Let’s build up a list of management twaddle that should never be heard again. Send them to me. I will faithfully record them. And should I ever use them – any of them – in one of my Alternative Board meetings, then I’ll simply invite everyone to the bar, hand over my credit card and take my punishment like a man. Someone who’s not afraid to walk the walk. Oops…