So you’ve just landed your first entry-level job, and that conference table is glowing in all its mahogany glory. In about one to two weeks’ time, chances are you’ll be designated the supremely stimulating task of taking the meeting minutes. Here, young grasshopper, is a glossary of terms and concepts to serve as your CliffsNotes survival guide. Godspeed, and don’t be shy with helping yourself to that free coffee:
1. PROVOCATIVE (“We want to be provocative”)
So when I hear the word provocative, I think of how our moms used to describe Britney Spears, or a style of dancing that the principal declared was not ok at the school dance (they can thank their lucky stars that twerking wasn’t a thing back then—Miley was like, eleven years old)
Turns out, provocative is a word execs use to refer to a perpetually sought-after strategy that will make a company’s brand pop out, making it instantly recognized in the industry. Sad face, nothing to do with Britney Spears.
2. GREAT SYNERGY (“Great work, team. There was some really great synergy in the room today”)
Once upon a time, a team manager was really psyched about people contributing nuggets of gold ideas at a meeting, giving awesome updates about how their projects were going, and just overall being jovial, collaborative, rock-star employees.
Said manager wanted to smack their palm on the table and exclaim, “Heck yes, you guys CRUSHED this”. But let’s be real, such jargon could jeopardize their professional credibility. So Manager goes to their laptop and pulls up Thesaurus.com, and voilà: “Great Synergy” was born.
3. BEST PRACTICES (“Our business follows industry best practices”)
Ok, I’m just going to play the devil’s advocate here. How do we really know what the “BEST” practices actually are, seeing as I highly doubt every single practice has been tried out?
The online definition of “best practice” is “a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means.” All I’m saying is that definition doesn’t really lend itself to “thinking outside the box.” Oh well.
4. DELIVERABLES (“Jodie will circulate the deliverables after this meeting”) “
Circulate the deliverables.” Never have I run into a verb+noun combination that has been so vague. Turns out, the key ingredient to a successful meeting is to have the junior-most employee keep track of all of the actions that everyone else in the meeting is supposed to take care of, and send them around via email post-meeting.
Performing this task with accuracy will be one of your key opportunities to shine, so whenever you hear the words “deliverables” or “action Items,” you should be more alert than Usain Bolt at the start line.
5. LET’S DISCUSS THIS OFFLINE (I’m liking the direction of this. Let’s be sure to discuss this offline”)
First of all, why? We literally are talking about it right now. Can we just wrap up the conversation like normal people?
If I was at brunch telling my girlfriends about a flashmob I saw in Farragut Square, I wouldn’t then halfway through be like, “Ok, I’ll tell you the rest later, I’m going to leave you hanging and suggest we move onto the next topic of convo”. No. That’s silly.
6. NO WRONG IDEAS (“There are no wrong ideas, this is a brainstorm”)
Ha! Gotcha! There are DEFINITELY “wrong” ideas. Don’t take that touchy-feely bait. You will know a wrong idea in the brainstorm when the HR director writing ideas on the whiteboard makes a confused-smile-grimace that would leave Regina George begging for facial expression pointers.
Take my word for it, if you have an idea but aren’t quite sure about it, just smile and discretely fill your cup up with more of that free coffee. You have a good year and change ahead of you to make that brainstorming magic happen. Slow and steady wins the race.
7. AOB (in written form)
The first time I saw this written out on an agenda, my first instinct was to sound it out in my head. “aaa-aahh-bb”…. “ayyy—ohhb”…. Is this a different language? What.does.this.stand.for?
Turns out, AOB stands for “Any Other Business.” When I realized this, I felt about as smart as a goldfish and started questioning my whole college degree. Other acronyms to be on the lookout for: COB means “close of business,” not the incorrect spelling of a popular salad. OOO means “Out of Office,” not the start of a Bruno Mars song.