How many hours do you spend in meetings every week? How many of those meetings are actually productive? If your answer to the first question is “too many”, and your answer to the second question is “too few”, then you’re not alone. A global productivity survey by Microsoft suggests that 69% of professionals feel meetings are a waste of time. Epson and the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that ineffective meetings cost UK businesses £26 billion every year.
So you should probably look into getting that stuff fixed. Like, seriously. While I’m not going to help you fix your disastrous meetings, here’s the top ten tricks to appear smart in meetings by the Cooper Review.
Here are the top 10 tricks to appear smart in meetings:
1. Draw a Venn diagram
The perfect distraction tool, which will make you look smart and give you some time to sit back and relax. Draw up two circles that intersect, write the current issue in circle 1 and let the other meeting attendants jump in and start fighting about what should be in circle 2.
2. Translate percentages into fractions
Be the human ‘percentages to fractions’ calculator. Show off your extreme math skills, and demonstrate your deep level of involvement in the meeting. 75 percent? “THAT’S 3 IN FOUR!” Thanks, Captain Obvious.
3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back”
This one’s best for those situations where the other meeting attendants are getting close to actually doing something productive, and you’ve been quiet for too long. By asking everyone to take a step back, you can make yourself look smart immediately. It will also set the meeting back by at least 30 minutes, which will give you more time to make yourself look smarter by saying the exact same thing 30 minutes later. It’s almost like cheating, and you might find that you’ll seem scary smart if done too many times. But beware; use this line too frequently, and people might start asking questions…
4. Nod continuously while pretending to take notes
Bring a notepad, lean back, scribble intensively and flip pages often to make sure the people sitting close to you can’t see that you’re actually just writing the word ‘boring’ over and over. If you’re ever put in the position where you have to show your notes, resort back to #1.
5. Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very slowly
The engineer is probably the smartest guy in the room, so repeating whatever he or she says makes you the second smartest person in the room. At least.
6. Ask “Will this scale?” no matter what it is
It’s the pizza and beer of interrupting meetings – it’s always good. No one really knows what it means anyway, so give it a try when you feel you don’t come across as smart enough. It’s also a good way of driving engineers up the wall.
7. Pace around the room
Stanford found that walking improves creativity. In fact, you can increase your creative output by as much as 60% IN ADDITION TO making yourself look super thoughtful and important. Woah. Try taking some deep breaths while staring out the window for extended periods of time. “I wonder what she’s thinking”, they’ll ask themselves. After walking around for a while, you can impress everyone with all the super creative insights you gained from all that creative boosting (No, not really.)
8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide
The best thing about this one is that you don’t actually have to comment on anything. When they go back one, or more, slides, you can either say; “I’m not sure what these numbers really mean,” or “Oh okay, never mind.”
9. Step out for a very important phone call
Many professionals, especially CEOs and people from upper management are under the impression that you shouldn’t take your phone with you to meetings full stop. This is of course completely wrong; you should answer every single call, and excuse yourself in a way that says “this phone call is SO much more important than this meeting.” This will impress everyone at the meeting because you obviously got extremely important stuff happening in your life that needs to be addressed ASAP.
10. Make fun of yourself
Making self-deprecating comments and cracking jokes all over the place is probably the best way of showing how confident you are. Especially if your jokes are balancing between ‘Oh Jesus, that’s way too much information’ and ‘I think I need to speak to Susan from HR’.
And that’s it; enjoy becoming the smartest person in the meeting room! Which kinds of behaviors annoy you the most in meetings?