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10 TRICKS TO APPEAR SMART AT BUSINESS MEETINGS
Here are ten brilliant tricks for quickly appearing smart at business meetings:
Like everyone else, the need to seem smart at meetings is my top priority. Sometimes this can be difficult if you start daydreaming about your next vacation, your next nap, or just bacon. When this happens, it is useful to have some tricks to fall back on. Here are my ten top tips for quickly appearing smart at meetings.
1. Draw a Venn diagram.
Getting up and drawing a Venn diagram is one highly effective way of appearing smart. It does not matter if the diagram is wildly inaccurate, in fact, the more off the mark it is, the better. Even before you have put that marker down, your colleagues will start to fight about what precisely the labels should be and how big the circles should be, etc. At this point, you can slink back to your chair and continue playing Candy Crush on your phone.
2. Pace around the room.
Whenever someone gets up from the table and walks around, don't you immediately respect them? In my opinion, it takes a lot of guts but once you do it, you'll immediately appear smart. Fold your arms. Walk around. Go to the corner and lean against the wall. Emit a deep, contemplative sigh. Trust me, everyone will be shitting their pants wondering what the hell you're thinking. If only they knew (bacon).
3. Encourage everyone to "take a step back".
There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, apart from you. Opinions, statistics and milestones are being thrown around and you haven't the faintest idea what they all mean. This is the best point at which to yell, "Guys, guys, guys, can we just take a step back here?" Everyone will turn their heads towards you, amazed at your ability to silence the fray. Then quickly follow up with: "Let's assess this situation - just what problem are we really trying to solve here?" and, boom, boom! You've bought yourself another hour of looking smart.
4. 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. If someone asks if you're taking notes, say that these are your own personal notes and that someone else should really be keeping the minutes of the meeting. Voila! You'll have quickly saved your ass, and you'll also have got out of doing any extra work. Or any work at all, if you're really succeeding.
Then move smoothly through steps 5, 6, 7, 8, 9...
5. Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very, very slowly.
Make a mental note of the engineer in the room. Remember his name. He will always be quiet during most of the meeting, but when his moment comes, everything flowing out of his mouth will spring from a place of unknowable brilliance. After he's uttered his exalted words, chip in with, "Okay, let me repeat that," and repeat back exactly what the engineer said, but go very, very slowly. Now his brilliance has been transferred to you. People will look back on the meeting and mistakenly attribute the intelligent statement to you. Great!
6. Ask, "Will this scale?" no matter what it may be.
It's important to find out if things will scale no matter what you are discussing. No one even knows what it means, but it's a good catch-all question that usually applies and drives engineers nuts.
7. Convert percentages into fractions.
If someone says, "About 25% of users click on this button," quickly chip in with, "So about 1 in 4," and make a note of it. Everyone will nod in agreement, secretly impressed and envious of your ready mathematical skills.
8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide.
"Sorry, could you quickly go back a slide?" They are the words no presenter wants to hear. It doesn't matter where in the presentation you say this. Right away, it'll make you look like you are paying closer attention than everyone else, because clearly everyone missed the thing you are about to point out. Don't have anything to point out? Just say something like, "It's okay, I just wasn't convinced about the accuracy of some figures," and sit back. You've bought yourself almost an entire meeting of appearing dogged and smart.
9. Step out for a phone call.
You are probably afraid to step out of the room in case people think you aren't making the meeting your priority and disapprove. Conversely, if you step out for a "very important" phone call, they will realize exactly how busy and important you are. They'll say, "Wow, our meeting's very important, so if he's got something even more important, we'd best not bug him."
10. Make fun of yourself.
If someone asks what you think, and you haven't caught a single word anyone said for the past hour, just say, "Oh bugger; sorry, I didn't catch a single word anyone said during the past hour." 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 and consider contacting H.R., but more importantly, think you are far and away the smartest person in the room.