20 Tricks to Appear Smart In Meetings

Illustrator and blogger Sarah Cooper has published a hilarious and very true book “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings“. This is a sneak-peak selection of the 20 funniest tricks you should totally use:

20 tricks to appear smart in meetings.


Draw a Venn diagram.

Translate percentages into fractions.

Encourage everyone to take a step back.

Nod and pretend to take notes.

Repeated the last thing the engineer said, but very slowly.

Ask "will this scale?" no matter what it is.

Pace around the room.

Ask the presenter to go back a slide.

Step out for a very important phone call.

Make fun of yourself.

Everyone else needs an explanation.

Turn multi-word phrases into acronyms.

Put sticky notes all over your laptop.

Invite people to the meeting who don't need to be there.

Make sure your presentation has a giant, useless appendix.

Ask if we're conflating multiple issues.

Turn nouns into verbs.

Alternate between agreeing and disagreeing with everything.

Say "that's obvious" at things that aren't obvious.

At the end of the meeting, ask if someone's going to email a summary.



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  1. Lolfosor November 8, 2018

    LOL, who have actually tried any of these?

  2. Lolnee November 8, 2018

    Imma be real, I’ve used a few of these myself in meetings I have had ZERO clues about the last one does NOT work in your favour cuz YOU will most likely be the one voted for summarising :’)

  3. Albert O'Balsam November 8, 2018

    I’ve seen all of these where I work. Howie Botter is his name, b******t is his game!

  4. N Kompromat November 8, 2018

    21: If someone else in the meeting is playing these same rule – get close to them and take a flash photo of them and/or turn on the torchlight app and shine it in their eyes for a bit then announce something like “so, what work streams do we need to integrate in order to get this done?”

  5. Anonymous November 8, 2018

    Every meeting with every MBA consultant I’ve ever hired or worked with- particularly newbies gunning for a directorship. I am no better though. Love the work streams suggestion- will be adding that to the repertoire.

  6. Anonymous November 8, 2018

    You should re title this article “how to get fired in 1 month”

  7. Anonymous November 9, 2018

    Not all people here can understand the elevens lifehack can someone explain it for them?

  8. Anonymous November 9, 2018

    #14 is my favorite.

  9. Anonymous November 10, 2018

    I’ve been to many useless meetings where I had zero clue why I was there except to fill a seat. I always remarked that upon leaving because **** meetings

  10. Anonymous November 10, 2018

    I do not intend to be the smartest looking person in the room. I *am* the smartest person in the room.

  11. RedWill November 13, 2018

    I used the “can we go back one slide” one about two hours ago. I briefly looked at it, nodded, and said “that’s fine, you can carry on now”.
    Full on wanker mode engaged, just bored more than anything.

  12. Left blank intentionally November 13, 2018

    ps I have the book and I love it.

  13. whyyeseyec November 13, 2018

    Step out for an important phone call – then don’t come back!

  14. Anonymous November 22, 2018

    This is Kate Newhouse. AKA the **** CEO.

  15. Anonymous November 29, 2018

    “Will it scale?”

    I always answer that one with “…in what dimension/aspect?”

    Whacks the fakers and buzzword-jockeys every time, since they instantly freeze with this delicious look of incoherence.

    An Engineer. ;)

  16. Anonymous January 10, 2019


  17. dm10003 February 7, 2019

    I have my doubts about all of these. I have always lived by all of these.

  18. Andy February 7, 2019

    Always ask about “next steps”….Really makes you appear intelligent.

  19. ExIBMer February 7, 2019

    Leverage… …going forward… …can we have a scrum to cover this weekly… IBM was a great meeting bullsh*t training ground but wished I had these when I worked there.

  20. Anonymous February 7, 2019

    Will this humour scale?

  21. Tessa February 7, 2019

    Lol @ “will this humor scale?”

  22. Anonymous February 7, 2019

    Walk in, sit down, take your watch off, place it in front of you with the face propped up and say “We have 15 minutes to impress me.

  23. Anonymous February 7, 2019

    Also flawlessly justify anything you state at a meeting, be it true or false, fact or opinion, with the logic: “because at the end of the day…” (conclude with buzzphrase like) “this will impact our bottom line”.

  24. Steve February 7, 2019

    I had a VP of sales use a modified version of #18: “I don’t disagree with you…” Could never pony up and agree with anyone on anything.

  25. j-money February 7, 2019

    hmmm aren’t all these obvious?

  26. Name-o February 7, 2019

    If someone is talking too long or more than five sentences ask them to “nutshell” it for you. Then ask them how many patents they have. Tell them you have three for software you designed even if you don’t. When you want to talk to someone in private call it taking this conversation “offline”

  27. Yes, it will scale February 7, 2019

    “I dont know aout number 4, can you explain?”

  28. Señor February 8, 2019

    The last one could work if your laptop battery conveniently died ‘my laptop died, who gonna summarize the meeting?

  29. DS February 8, 2019

    I had a lazy ****** who bought his way a long distance with #10 and #16 before meeting me, but I spot the pattern quickly and eventually managed to get him out on the open. He’s still slugging around, but plays no importance in decision making.

  30. Pavel February 8, 2019

    I like asking about downstream implications :-D

  31. Mike T February 8, 2019

    The nouns into verbs drives me bonkers. The Ask is… Whats the Solve… It sounds just as intelligent to me as someone saying LOL out loud.

  32. Anonymous February 8, 2019

    “Solutioning” is the one that is currently sucking my will to live. “Let’s meet so we can focus on solutioning.”

  33. Adam F February 8, 2019

    After this great post spreads across linkedin. I can’t wait till meetings become “rap battles” the to and fro serve up #1 only to have #6 returned then replying with #7 the Dropped Mic moment #20 the joy of the volley will be hilarious. Great stuff

  34. Anonymous February 8, 2019


  35. Howard Botter February 8, 2019

    Not cool, Albert. Not cool.

  36. Anonymous February 9, 2019

    This all sounds great, guys, buy I wonder if there’s a meta-question here about whether we should take this and pivot to avoid overindexing.

  37. Anonymous February 9, 2019

    “This idea of…”

  38. Gogol February 10, 2019

    Haha Deborah Sherry at Google. The bullshit queen – she left us to sink GE Digital.

  39. Deidre February 10, 2019

    These make me laugh. . .it’s often the biggest jerks in the organization who do this and it’s soooo obvious. . .

  40. Scott M February 11, 2019

    Other “buzzwords” that sound ridiculous but for some reason are loved by mgmt., -Let’s triage that issue -What’s the cadence on that project? -We can circle back on that later -We’ll perform a lift and shift on that -Let’s put a fence around that to find a solution. Other keywords – Scope, sustain, integrate, agile, value proposition, deploy, leverage, hedge, exposure, dashboard, customize, transform, pain points, engagement, touchpoint, initiative, synergy, align, transition and governance. Just combine these words into your vocab and you’re immediately director level material.

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