It’s no secret that most people don’t listen during meetings. Of course, you don’t want anyone to notice that you, in particular, aren’t. In fact, you want exactly the opposite to happen. You want everyone to think that you’re being attentive instead of being constantly on airplane mode. By appearing smart in meetings, not only do you lower your chances of getting negative attention, but you can also buy yourself some time to relax a bit. If you’re clever about looking smart, you don’t have to actively listen to seem like you’re giving some good input. That said, here are 10 nifty tricks that you can employ to appear smart during meetings and work in general:
Make It Look Like You’re Helping Everyone Catch Up to Speed
When it’s time to offer some kind of input and you haven’t been listening for the past few slides, don’t panic. Instead, use this opportunity to make it look like you’re letting everyone else catch up to speed by asking the group to take a step back. Ask the presenter to go back a slide or follow it up with a statement that makes it seem like there’s a bigger problem than what is actually being presented.
Be Unpredictable With Your Opinions
Disagreeing with something can look like a mark of intelligence, so choose when to disagree — as well as when to agree. Everyone will be eagerly waiting for what you have in store, which can make it look like you have the last say on the matter.
Ask To Water Down Terminologies
Meetings are no stranger to jargon and technical terms. If you don’t understand them, don’t ask directly. Instead, politely interject and say something like, “I don’t think everyone here understands what you mean. Can you elaborate for them?” or “I think we have different interpretations of this word. Can you explain how you understood it?” Not only does this make you look smart, but it’ll look like you’re doing everyone else a favor.
People who appear unsurprised about everything are typically viewed as intelligent because their composure implies control and understanding of the situation. So, when someone provides you with what is regarded as important information, you can remark, “That was pretty obvious from the beginning. You didn’t notice?” They won’t question how you found it obvious, but would rather ask themselves how it wasn’t obvious to them in the first place.
Use Action Words
Words are a great addition to your repertoire of tactics. So, even if you don’t have anything to say, the way you say something — even if it means nothing — can make all the difference. In this case, use action words. Turn nouns into verbs for that creative, corporate punch.
Sprinkle In Some Buzzwords
Further to words, buzzwords are going to make your action words sound even more competent. Synergy, sustainability, scalability, and core competency are just some of the nicest sounding buzzwords you can play around with. Sprinkle them into your corporate vocabulary to give your input or questions some extra flavor.
Step Out for an Important Call
Nothing says “I’m extremely busy” like stepping out for a phone call. Most people would try not to answer a call during a meeting unless the caller is someone important, like your boss. Stepping out for a call during a meeting automatically implies that you do have an important caller, which makes you, by association, a rather important person.
Include a Long Appendix
Nobody reads the appendix of a presentation but including a long, rather useless one does give the impression that you did a ton of research. Nobody has the time to fact-check it anyway so it’s an easy but effective trick.
Ditto for a Venn Diagram
Just like the long appendix, a Venn diagram will do wonders to make your presentation appear well-researched. Don’t even worry about accuracy — instead, let your colleagues argue about how the diagram should look while you sit back and eat some popcorn.
Ask If Someone Is Going To Provide a Summary
Doing the summary or minutes of a meeting is basically menial work in the corporate world. So, if you want to avoid this, beat everyone else to the punch by asking if someone’s going to email a summary of the meeting. Not only will it look like you were attentive throughout but that you’re also at a certain level of importance.