What was the best "drop the mic" moment you've witnessed in a business meeting?

Many years ago, I was the tech lead on a project in Asia. (I’m going to specifically be a little vague). I was there to lead a large IT development project out of trouble and past a check point the client had set. We were already in “liquidated damages” when I arrived — we were paying the client $4,000/day because we had missed a hard deadline.

I work 80 hours/week for a couple of months and completely rearchitect the software and we get to the point of being able to pass the check point. But the client workers are pushing back.

So, a large meeting was convened with our CEO (of the consulting company) and the client’s #2 in charge. About 25 people around a long boardroom table. And I’m bored…. really bored. Lots of contract talk.

In fact, they are saying that if we’ve not passed the check point, they would cancel everything. I ask, “how do you know? Have you already done the testing?”

The client insists no … but it is weird how they are hanging onto this point so strongly and allowing so many other items to pass. I ask two more times over the next hour until the CEO tells me to stop asking … they’ve already said no.

One of my bosses came in late, and the client’s PM passed him the last copy of the material for the meeting and he sits down beside me.

I casually notice that he has a page I don’t have; it is the results of their testing, and it shows we would fail their test (just fail it).

We stop at a break ... I show this page to the CEO … we all agree it proves that the client HAS done the testing they insisted that they hadn’t done three times.

My CEO handled it like a boss ... as people returned to the meeting, someone noticed the results in front of him … and some people started to panic.

My CEO slid it across to the client’s #2, and simple asked, “Could you have one of your people explain this document?” The #2 was confused (he didn’t know) and had the PM explain it … she lied … paused … sputtered … and admitted that they HAD done the testing.

The #2 asked for another break … returned to the room (without the PM) and gave us what we wanted as long as we could make the small changes to fix the issues identified. He didn’t roll over and totally give in, but it was a moment I will never forget.

Are you anticipating the question of what happened to the PM? I heard a year later her career totally stalled and she wouldn’t ever get another promotion. It was a small community and she would never be able to work anywhere else. I wish I could feel bad for her, but she made our lives a living hell for months.

The project went live a couple of months later, after meeting all the requirements.

I assume the page my boss got was simply an issue on the printer … someone grabbed one too many pages. I don’t truly believe it was fed to us. But what luck! The good news for us was that the CEO (who had heard some stories about how our team was struggling to work well with the client) completely understood the situation we were in, and didn’t blame us for the issues.

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