Greetings, North American Sales Team, and welcome to this year’s annual sales conference! Only seven of you clapped, so let me repeat the second half of that statement again, only this time louder and with oddly placed emphasis … Welcome to this year’s annual sales conference!!!

That’s much better.

We have a marginally interesting program for you during these next two days, and I hope that you are as excited as I am about getting drunk in the hotel bar later tonight.

The past year has been a challenging one. Many of our clients went out of business. Many of our friends lost their jobs. Many of you who hate working here had to continue working here because no one else was hiring and you couldn’t move back home because your parents rented out your room to avoid foreclosure.

However, the year ahead looks brighter, or at least not nearly as apocalyptic. The economy seems to have turned a corner, and we have emerged from the worst recession in a generation stronger than before, thanks in large part to nothing in particular that we did so much as crippling failures on the part of our competitors. While your hard work during this difficult time has been commendable, now is the time to return to doing what we do best: disinterestedly selling software that will eventually render us professionally irrelevant.

Let’s take a look at the agenda for the next two days. First, you’ll hear from our product development team, who will fill you with unrealistic expectations and then fail to deliver on them. After that, we’ll bring our middle management team onstage to deflect any questions you all have for them. After that, we’ll break for flat coffee and overripe fruit, then reconvene for an hour of namedropping.

Throughout the course of the day, I will do my part as the master of ceremonies to keep you alert by sporadically making selected sections of the audience stand up under the guise of illustrating some subtle point. You’ll also get to hear from senior level executives, who will offer some words of meaningless jargon and then make several unsuccessful attempts at humor. In an effort to talk down to your level, they will also throw in a few pop cultural non-sequiturs.

Lunch will be catered, bland, and served in the main ballroom. I encourage you all to use the opportunity to meet with your colleagues and discuss strategies for skipping the afternoon session while avoiding any accountability.

We’ll kick off the afternoon session with a few incomprehensible words from our CFO. He will show you bar graphs and line graphs and pie charts, which will be green in color and misleadingly optimistic. It is during this time that many of you (having immediately lost interest upon hearing the term “effective annualized seven-day yield”) will fall asleep. After that, I will introduce our keynote speaker, an obscure business executive whom I will speak about as though he were wildly famous. He will take sixty minutes of your life explaining the metaphor of the corporation as a living, breathing body, justifying massive layoffs by citing how it’s occasionally necessary for a body to sever its own limbs in order to escape threats to its existence like predators, traps, or excessive overhead costs.

Following our keynote address, we’ll take another short break so that the sales team can flirt with members of the opposite sex and decide whom to aggressively pursue later in the evening. Our final session before dinner will be an address from our CEO. I will spend five minutes shamelessly flattering him for personal gain, then he will take the stage and try not to focus on the fact that everyone in this room saw him on TV last month admitting that he had an affair with a twenty-year-old masseuse in Hong Kong. It will be very awkward. We’ll conclude the day with our entire executive management team for another round of questions and non-answers.

Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., and then we will have live music, an open bar, and dancing until 11 p.m. During this time you are encouraged to make poor decisions without fear of professional repercussions or personal judgment. We hope that everyone is able to enjoy themselves and relax tonight. Just know that there will be professional repercussions and personal judgment.

Tomorrow, we will have a variety of fun mandatory activities for you. Those of you who aren’t too hung over to stand will be divided into breakout groups and led to different stations, each focusing on core skills like teamwork, leadership, and teamworkship. The activity is a surprise, but I’ll give you a hint: You’re going to build something! We wanted to make this fun, so there will be a competition and the winning team will win a costly prize that no one will have any practical use for. Finally, we’ll regroup for some closing thoughts.

With that I’ll pass it over to our product development team. Thank you all again for your hard work. We hope you enjoy yourselves during the conference and take this opportunity to network with those colleagues whom you think can help advance your career. Now please give your product development team your half-hearted attention and a lukewarm round of applause.