Sarah Cooper has a book (100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (October 4, Andrews McMeel)) coming out with 100 tricks to appear smart in meetings.
Here are some examples from the book grabbed from her post at Techcrunch.
In a brainstorming meeting, the pressure of coming up with incredible new ideas can be debilitating. Luckily, the last thing most corporations want is new ideas.
During these largely pointless exercises, the point is to contribute using the mere gravitas of your presence, make other people’s ideas seem like your ideas, and look like a true leader by questioning the efficiency of the whole process.
Here are 9 tricks to make you look like you’re the creative force on your team.
- Leave to get water and ask if anyone needs anything
Just before the meeting starts, get up and ask if anyone needs anything. People will think you’re so thoughtful, kind, and giving, plus you’ll be able to disappear for 10 minutes no questions asked. Even if no one wants anything, return with bottles of water, soda, and snacks.
Your colleagues will feel compelled to start drinking and snacking, and your foresight will make them think you can really predict the future.
- Grab a pad of sticky notes and start drawing
While the topics are being introduced, grab one of those sticky note pads and start drawing meaningless flowcharts. Your colleagues will look over at you with worried interest, wondering how you’re coming up with so many complex ideas even before you know what this meeting is for.
- Make an analogy that’s so simple it sounds deep
When everyone is trying to define the problem, make an analogy about baking a cake, or something just as completely unrelated. Your colleagues will nod their heads in agreement, even if they really don’t understand how what you’re saying is related to what they’re talking about. Talking completely over their heads will make you seem wildly transcendent and intimidatingly creative, even though the truth is you really just like cake.
- Ask if we’re asking the right questions
Nothing makes you seem smarter than when you question the questions by asking if they’re the right questions. If someone responds by asking you what you think the right questions are, say you just asked one.
Sidebar: How to strategically shoot down small ideas
Wonder if an idea seems too small so your colleagues see you as a big thinker and a gamechanger.
Use one of these phrases:
- But how is it disruptive?
- Is this 10x?
- Is this the future?
- I thought that was dead.
- What’s the big Win?
- But isn’t Apple doing that?
- Use an idiom
Using an idiom to question an idea is a subtle, smart way of questioning it. Here are some idioms to choose from:
- Isn’t that gilding the lily?
- Isn’t that putting lipstick on a pig?
- Seems like we’re polishing a turd.