10 Ingenious Tricks for Appearing Smart in Meetings

Most people will dread the tyranny of meetings. It’s either painful, useless, or soul-crushing. But Sarah Cooper in her latest book “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings,” shares hilarious and creative techniques on how to appear intelligent in much, much less time.

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1. Draw a Venn diagram.

Getting up and drawing a Venn Diagram is a great way to appear smart. It doesn’t necessary matter if the Venn diagram is precise. Even before you’ve put that marker down, your colleagues will be fighting about what the labels should be and how big the circles should be.

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2. Translate percentage metrics into fractions.

If someone says, “About 25 percent of all users click on this button,” jump in with, “So about one in four,” and make a note of it. Everyone will not their heads in agreements, secretly impressed and envious of your quick math skills.

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3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back.”

Remember the last time when everyone is chiming in, except you? This is a great place to say, “Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?” Everyone will turn their heads towards you, amazed at your ability to silence the fray. Follow it up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve? And, boom! You’ve got yourself another hour of looking smart.

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4. Nod Continuously While Pretending to Take Notes

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5. Repeat the Last Thing the Engineer Said, But Very Very Slowly5

6. Ask “Will this scale?” no matter what it is.

IT’s important to find out whether things will scale no matter what it is you’re discussing. No one even really knows what that means, but’s a good catchall question that generally applies and drives engineers nuts.

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7. Pace around the room.

Whenever someone gets up from the table and walks around, don’t you immediately respect him? I know I do. It takes a lot of guts, but once you do it, you immediately look smart. Walk around. Go to the corner and lean against the wall. Take a deep, contemplative sigh. Trust me, everyone will be shitting their pants wondering what you’re thinking. If only they knew (bacon).

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“Sorry, could you go back a slide?” They’re the seven words no presenter wants to hear. IT doesn’t matter where in the presentation you shout this out; it’ll immediately make you look like you’re paying closer attention than everyone else is, because clearly they missed the thing that you’re about to brilliantly point out. Don’t have anything to point out? Just stare silently for several seconds, then say, “OK, let’s move on.”

8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide.

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9. Step Out for a Very Important Phone Call

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10. Make fun of yourself.

If someone asks what you think and you honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour, just say, “I honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour.” People love self-deprecating humor. 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.

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  • Does the need for tricks also mean that meetings are useless and being actually smart in meetings is not possible?

  • roger belveal

    Be sure to say, “At the end of the day” a lot too and “Let’s not overthink this”. You’ll be a manager in no time.

  • Pretend? I think I would rather just be plain smart and good at what I do.

  • Chinwe Kalu

    Hilarious, but really make sense. Ck