Properly Setting Up a Meeting - A guide for production interns
Setting up and running a meeting can be a daunting task for a new production intern, since it can involve difficult tasks like clicking a button in Outlook, and actually talking to coworkers. As such, I thought I'd put together this handy guide on key steps to ensure a proper and productive meeting for all! While specific NetherRealm "call-outs" are made, this handy guide should be useful to all aspiring production interns out there.
- NEVER actually book a meeting room. This is a sucker bet. Given the importance of producers maintaining a near-primal fight for dominance, the appropriate thing to do is to just grab a meeting room five minutes before the top of the hour, and then "stand your ground" when it turns out that the room is booked for a key budget meeting with visiting corporate Vice presidents. In fact, whenever a door opens so much as a crack during a meeting, just start berating the person on the other side with "swears" and personal insults. In all probability, the person on the other side of the door will respect your position, and politely thank you for informing them of their weight issues before slinking off to find another room. Again, simple steps like these can really propel you forward in the corporate world.
- Don't take notes. No matter what anyone says, notes and "next steps" are completely useless, and in fact, not taking notes can represent a potentially massive cost-savings! Think about the following: Let's say you are at a meeting where the team decides on 15 tasks they want to do to get the game running better, and each of those tasks takes one man-month to do. If you take notes and properly track these tasks, there is at least a slight chance that some of these things will get done. If no one can remember what the tasks are, however, because there are no notes, NONE of these tasks will be worked on. Congratulations, production intern, you've just saved 15 man months of work!!! That is certainly a substantial money savings, no?
- Never forget, YOU are running the meeting, so YOU get the most say. Let's say there is an art review meeting for a character model, and you invite the art director, character lead, creative director, and character artists to the meeting. They are rambling on and on about some boring details about how to make the model look better, but you are of the opinion that the character should be wearing a top hat. CHIME IN. This is YOUR meeting after all, and regardless of who is in the meeting, they are really just passing time until you jump-in and start espousing your opinions on the subject. A producers job isn't to facilitate communication, it is to secretly impose your will to design the game in the way that you feel is right. Remember this!
- Also, and this is really important, make sure you comment on EVERYTHING, regardless of whether or not you actually have anything valuable to add, just to remind people of how important you are. Every minute or two, just cut off whomever is speaking to say _something_. It'll usually be inane and irrelevant, but they will appreciate your input nonetheless, and compliment you for it.
- Timing is everything! There are times when you should schedule meetings, and times when it is totally inappropriate. The best time for meetings, typically, is 12:00 Noon on the dot, but only for meetings of 30 minutes or longer. For shorter meetings, it is usually recommended to schedule them at either the exact start time for the day (say 10am) or the last possible minute in the day (say 7pm). That said, don't forget that people do love meetings, so feel free to schedule them very early in the morning, late at night, or even on weekends.
- No matter what the meeting is, add Ed Boon and Steve Beran to the invite list . Let's say there is a meeting to talk about whether or not a specific C++ function should use "const", go ahead and add them. The nice thing about people like Ed and Steve is that they don't have a million people trying to use their time, so they will very much appreciate it when they get to your meeting and find out that you were merely being kind enough to want to keep them entertained. This will go a long way to ensuring a prosperous and fruitful career at NetherRealm.
- Don't bother checking people's availability. For some reason, Microsoft included a way to see whether or not people have existing meetings for when you try and schedule meetings. Clearly, this is just to bloat the UI, since no one in their right mind will ever use this. Go ahead and schedule a meeting at whatever time is convenient for you, since your meeting will be the most important. The leader of the other meeting will figure out that you scheduled a meeting when no one shows up to his silly "Critical, Urgent Or Game Doesn't Ship Meeting", and instead attends "Why I think we should cut Superman in favor of Detective Chimp in a Cape."
- Meetings are about fun! The conversation should meander whenever possible. Who knows where the conversation might lead, but the one thing we know is that, wherever it goes, it'll be more interesting than whatever lame "work oriented" discussion you set up the meeting about. If people seem to be veering off-track, here's some go-to topics you can interject with:
- iPhone rumors. Guaranteed to kill any conversation. If need be, go ahead and make up "something your Uncle at Apple told you" to peak peoples interest.
- Juicy Personnel Gossip. It is always appropriate, and interesting, for a producer to share deeply personal stories that you are told in confidence. Go ahead and save these up so you can use them to get a meeting back off-course!
- Finally, Meeting success is based upon length! For a meeting to be successful, it must consume, at a minimum, 2X the time originally scheduled. Some, lesser, producers will "pad their numbers" by scheduling a meeting to be much shorter than need be. Don't fall into this trap! Using the topics above, you can easily pad a meeting by 2X the time scheduled (again, the baseline) without the personal shame of having a meeting end on-time. The target for a successful meeting increases by producer title, as well. An intern only needs 2x the scheduled length, while once one reaches Executive Producer, the length of a meeting must be a full 8x over schedule to be considered successful. A good career goal is to eventually waste an entire day of all leads in the company with a 15 minute meeting!