Background & The Issue In Question:
Teleconferencing can be a useful tool. However, it can also make it easy to schedule endless meetings where 90% of the participants have nothing to do.
Unfortunately, it is often the case where these additional participants are obligated to be on the call for various reasons.
Proposal: Proxy meeting attendees
The basic idea is to hire a person to pretend to be you during the conference.
Obviously, there is a problem here, in that the proxy will not sound the same as you (unless you happen to sound exactly like a robot).
But it can still be arranged so that no one is the wiser. First, the theoretically-intended teleconference attendee must record a series of audio clips of them saying common things. For example:
- “This is YOUR_NAME, I’m on the call.” Note: do not actually say the literal word “YOUR_NAME” or the gig will be up.
- “I agree.”
- “Great idea, boss.”
- “Fantastic idea, boss.”
- “That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a while, boss.”
This set of audio clips is then hooked up to a soundboard (a keyboard—probably a virtual one—where each keypress plays a specific audio clip), which the proxy can use to respond to questions on your behalf. See Figure 1.
Fig 1: Generally, most responses can be short and agreeable. The soundboard sample above contains only four of the possible dozens of things that the meeting attendance proxy can say.
There is one serious problem: it is unlikely, but the person who is being represented by the proxy may be asked a difficult question that the proxy has no way to reply to.
To solve this situation, we will add a “panic button” to the soundboard. This button will play a prerecorded message indicating that there is an emergency situation requiring disconnection from the conference call.
The proxy will then notify the actual attendee (who is presumably on standby for just such a situation). Then the actual attendee can call right back in and answer the question correctly.
Fig 2: If there’s some question that your teleconference-proxy can’t field, the proxy will press the panic button (labeled with a “?”) to disconnect with a pre-recorded socially-appropriate message (“Oh, I’m losing my connection.” “Dang, a crocodile is chewing on my leg.” etc…).
This is a great idea that will improve the lives of both the office workers in question and the call-center employees who will work as proxies.
PROS: This proposal could save over a billion hours of meeting time every year, allowing office workers to view over 100 billion additional cat videos per year, and possibly contributing to the GDP due to the increased ad revenue on those cat videos.
CONS: Results not guaranteed. May result in job loss.