Not everyone enjoys meetings. Some see it as a waste of time—where they could be completing their work—while others find it a necessity to keep on top of current projects. However, it can be pretty nerve-racking if you don’t know what’s going on in the meeting and you’re afraid of being posed with questions; especially if you’re supposed to have the answers.
While the following infographic is a satirical take on appearing smarter in meetings, the basic idea behind some of these suggestions hits the nail on the head; sometimes proving you know what you’re doing is more about appearances than it is about actually knowing.
The Cooper Review‘s Sarah Cooper, who gave us tricks to appear smart in emails, has come up with 10 tricks for meetings that’ll help you appear “smart” instantly. Some of her tips and tricks involve drawing Venn diagrams, asking everyone to “Take a step back,” and stepping out to make an “important” call. Learn these tricks and more by checking out the infographic below:
10 tricks to appear smart in meetings
Draw a Venn diagram
It doesn’t matter if your Venn diagram is wildly inaccurate, in fact, the more inaccurate the better. Even before you’ve put that marker down, your colleagues will begin fighting about what exactly the labels be, how big the circles should be, and more. At this point, you can slink back to your chair and go back to playing Candy Crush.
Translate percentages into fractions
If someone says “About 25% of people click on this button,” quickly chime in with “So about 1 in 4,” and make a note of it. Everyone will nod their heads in agreement, secretly impressed and envious of your quick math skills.
Encourage everyone to “Take a step back”
There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, except you. This is a great point to go, “Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?” Follow it up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve?” and, boom! You’ve bought yourself another hour of looking smart.
Nod continuously while pretending to take notes
Always bring a notepad with you. Your rejection of technology will be revered. Take notes by simply writing down one word from every sentence that you hear. Nod continuously while doing so.
Repeat the last thing the tech person said, but very very slowly
After the tech guy utters his divine words, chime in with, “Let me just repeat that,” and repeat exactly what he just said, but very very slowly. Now his brilliance has been transferred to you.
Ask “Will this scale” no matter what it is
No one even really knows what that means, but it’s a good catch-all question generally applies and drives tech people nuts.
Pace around the room
Whenever someone gets up from the table and walks around, don’t you immediately respect them? Walk around. Go the the corner and lean against the wall. Take a deep contemplative sigh. Everyone will be freaking out and wondering what you’re thinking.
Ask the presenter to go back a slide
It doesn’t matter where in the presentation you shout this out, it’ll immediately look like you’re paying closer attention than everyone else. Don’t have anything to point out? Just say something like, “I’m not sure what these numbers mean.”
Step out for a very important phone call
When you step out of a meeting for an “important” phone call, everyone will realize just how busy and important you are. They’ll say, “Wow, this meeting is important, so if he has something even more important than this, well, we better not bother him.”
Make fun of yourself
People love self-deprecating humour. Say things like, “Maybe we can just use the lawyers from my divorce,” or “God I wish I was dead.” They’ll laugh, value your honesty, consider contacting HR, but most importantly, think you’re the smartest looking person in the room.
If you have any tricks to appear smart in meetings, share them in the comments or on social media.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.