We all dread meetings. It eats up our time and educes us to sleep, but most of all, there’s an onus put on us to have all answers at hand on cue cards – ok, so the cue cards may be an exaggeration. But It comes in handy to have a few tricks up your sleeve to appear like you know exactly what’s going on – just in case you start to day dream.
Enter Sarah Cooper, a comedian and writer of a satirical blog, who worked for giants Yahoo! and Google. She recently unveiled some amazing advice for those more preoccupied with daydreaming about their next vacation, nap, or even bacon. And we thought you could benefit from her advice.
(1) Don’t stand still
The key to gaining everyone’s immediate respect is to never sit down. Pace around to your hearts content because it, in some weird mysterious way, generates admiration from staff.
“It takes a lot of guts but once you do it, you appear smart,” she said. “Fold your arms. Walk around. Go to the corner and lean against the wall. Take a deep, contemplative sigh. Trust me, everyone will be sh**ting their pants wondering what you’re thinking. If only they knew (bacon).”
(2) Don’t take yourself too seriously
If you’re planning to use, or have already used, step one, then this should be a walk in the park. If your thoughts revolve around bacon, much like Cooper’s seems to, then blatantly admit you haven’t paid much attention. Not only that, make a fuss about it.
In her words: “Just say, ‘I honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour.’ People love self-deprecating humour. 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.”
(3) The power of the Venn diagram
Say what now? Venn diagram? It’s time you learn what it is because you’ll be wanting to draw a lot of it. It doesn’t matter how inaccurately you draw it. In fact, Cooper advocates that the more inaccurate it is the better! It will do wonders – unless a member of staff has already tried finding similar methods of appearing smart and is smirking quietly in the corner of the room.
“Even before you’ve put that marker down, your colleagues will begin fighting about what exactly the labels should be and how big the circles should be, etc,” Cooper explained. “At this point, you can slink back to your chair and go back to playing Candy Crush on your phone.”
(4) You should be able to silence the fray
You heard right – silence the fray! Ultimately, find a few choice words to make others shut up and speak one at a time. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
“There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, except you,” she said. “Opinions and data and milestones are being thrown around and you don’t know your CTA from your OTA. This is a great point to go, ‘Guys, guys, can we take a step back here?’ Everyone will turn their heads toward 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 bought yourself another hour of looking smart.”
There are more tricks of the trade. Continue reading to find out the benefits of repeating words and asking to see the previous slide again.
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