How to Look Smart at Meetings

Feigning smartness during a meeting is a goal most people see as a priority. However, it can be difficult to appear smart if your mind keeps going back to vacation planning, that cool thing you saw on eBay, or pizza.

Does that happen to you? Here, I’m happy to share a few tricks that will make you look so smart during meetings you’ll even impress yourself.

Draw a Venn diagram on your notepad. People will notice and begin sneaking glances at it. The diagram doesn’t even have to relate to the topic of the meeting; in fact the more cryptic the better. The other attendees will whisper among themselves and go crazy trying to figure out what they missed that prompted you to draw a Venn diagram.

If someone throws out a percentage, translate it into a fraction. Example: Joe says, “About 60 percent of our 2018 sales were Product A”. You then comment, “Ah, so about 3 out of 5” and instantly write this down on your notepad and circle it. Everyone will shake their heads in amazement at your lightning-quick mind.

If the meeting starts to bog down as people get bored and start talking to each other over the speaker, immediately take control by slamming your hand on the table and exclaiming, “Let’s get back on track, folks! What is the root issue we’re trying to address? Time to refocus here.”

Your fellow attendees will be in awe at your forcefulness, and the speaker will be grateful to you for rescuing them.

That notepad you brought? Use it throughout the meeting. Write down random phrases from the speaker’s presentation and circle them on occasion. Nod your head and mumble, “Hmmmmm” every few minutes. Be sure to avoid doodling cartoons or drawing your favorite product logos so people don’t wise up to the fact you’re not really noting anything.

Ask if things will scale. No one really knows what that means but ask anyhow. It’s a great phrase and makes you look like a strategic planner.

Step out for an imaginary phone call. Put an irritated look on your face as you pull your phone out. Apologize to the others. “Sorry, my ringer is off so as not to disturb the meeting, but I have vibrate on. I’ll have to take this particular call, I’ve been waiting for it.”

As you step out of the room, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you not only made yourself look smart and important, but that you showed how considerate you are by having your ringer off during meetings.

If someone makes a statement and then asks for your opinion, and you have been furtively checking Facebook on your phone and missed everything they said, turn the situation into a joke. Say something like, “I’m sorry, I just got an alert that North Korea has launched a nuke at us,” laugh self-deprecatingly, and then ask them to repeat what they just said.

You have not only avoided making yourself look inattentive, you will have the others wondering what in the world could have been so important as to distract you when you have so obviously been paying attention up until now.

Armed with my tips,  you will never again look stupid or bored at your next company meeting. And you’ll seem smart without even having to actually pay attention to what’s going on.

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