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.



 Add your comment
  1. Anonymous February 12, 2019

    I’m so glad I’m retired.

  2. Lou February 13, 2019

    I am conflated.

  3. Anonymous February 13, 2019

    Sorry I had to step out for that call, would you please step back a bit and repeat anything that isn’t obvious?

  4. thought-regurgigator February 13, 2019

    I wish I weren’t a freelancer so I could do this all day long!

  5. Judy Woizeschke February 13, 2019

    SO GLAD I AM RETIRED!!! That’s MY favorite!

  6. ken February 14, 2019

    before I retired – I did the Venn diagram and watched the eyes glaze over. being a veteran acronyms could just roll off my tongue. I was uninvited to some meetings and the entertainment at others.

  7. Anonymous February 14, 2019

    Do not, repeat, do not use #20. The immediate reaction will be, “Thanks, you take care of that, will you?”

  8. Daniel F February 15, 2019

    IFLAGA! (I f$%king love a good acronym)

  9. Robert February 15, 2019

    arrive late, leave early

  10. SBC February 17, 2019

    Most memorable quote from my former IBM manager – “Meetings are good provided there are no chairs in the room”

  11. Anonymous February 17, 2019

    Most of my managers including the President of our company practice most and often ALL of these suggestions! Time to step up my game! No wonder I haven’t been promoted! :)

  12. Anonymous February 18, 2019

    In other words anyone who us not half dopey will see through these moves and sounds with a ‘wtf” thought immediately, no ?

  13. Anonymous February 18, 2019

    Mike wild

  14. Michael February 18, 2019

    I’m frazzy at the moment so didn’t,, couldn’t read past the first 3 statements,,
    Crying out loud

  15. Mike February 18, 2019

    OK,,,still bemused, the worst form of ineffective psychology ever read, you will surely be beaten and disowned in any form of local book club globally,

  16. Slushy February 19, 2019

    Always bring a pocket full of tater tots to any meeting you attend

  17. Ice February 20, 2019

    Also: “Let me segue into …” and “Let me piggyback off off of of what he said …”

  18. Still_Working February 20, 2019

    What’s with all the retired people landing on this page?

  19. Anonymous February 20, 2019

    So happy to not be involved anymore with trying to impress others in meetings ! Retirement is a wonderful thing .

  20. Rev. Velveteen February 20, 2019

    How are we gonna monetize that? is always good too.

  21. FlameDance February 21, 2019

    #20 is the key to a successful meeting outcome: You can write whatever you want and is important to you. Other people’s input you can marginalize. Even better, that role is easy to get as nobody wants it (see comments above).

  22. Anonymous February 21, 2019

    After someone finishes their thought, say “To build on that” then say something completely contrary.

  23. LLPot February 22, 2019

    Have a meeting so nothing can get done.

  24. WorkingGuy February 22, 2019

    All the retirees commenting: a bunch of old people forwarded this on AOL. My dad sent it to me.

  25. Retiree February 23, 2019

    I was once a master of appearing deep in thought or listening intently with my eyes closed. Raise your chin and put an index finger diagonally across your lips. Nap.

  26. Petey February 23, 2019

    “Synergy” and “leverage” are essential.

  27. David February 23, 2019

    “…does it make the cash register ring?”

    “…with respect to…” (when bridging two points that barely go together)

    “For every action there’s and equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Law, right?…”

  28. Kevin February 23, 2019

    We need a discussion, or we need a conversation with so and so, new buzz words. Behind moving forward, as we go forward, all these kinds of things, all that sorts of things, yada yada

  29. Richard February 24, 2019

    “in terms of…”
    “in this space…”
    “piece of work…”
    My greatest accomplishment in meetings is developing the ability to yawn with my mouth closed.

  30. Ali February 25, 2019

    pipeline pipeline pipeline

  31. CK February 25, 2019

    Throw in ‘blockchain’ wherever possible

  32. POG February 25, 2019

    The list is encouraging, but I’ll have to run it up the flagpole to see if we get any pushback.

  33. Pete B March 4, 2019

    We’ll circle back on this

  34. Boss March 4, 2019

    Circling back on Petes comment

  35. Brandon March 6, 2019

    Let’s take this offline

  36. Anonymous April 8, 2019

    hmmm…oh, yes–your concern…let’s “unpack” that… (i.e., I know your concern is legitimate, but I need more time to build a viable defense in order to maintain the appearance of possessing a modicum of competence)

    Can you “unpack” that for me/us? (i.e., I am/we are unwilling and/or incapable of performing a simple analysis of the issue/situation)

  37. Anonymous April 22, 2019

    I’m going back to work soon after a lovely break and the thought of having to deal with this shit again terrifies me.

  38. Anonymous April 28, 2019

    So so true. Worked for the Feds for a long time when “resonate, “disconnect”, our “talent” pool, management “piece”, and “brainstorm” were popular. It’s so refreshing to hear that intelligent people think the buzzwords of the day – and still to THIS day – are laughable and laughed at. They can intimidate newcomers though and are spread heavily around in interviews . . Let’s just cut to the chase in conversations and meetings and make them meaningful.
    SO enjoyed reading the comments here :))

  39. Anonymous May 13, 2019

    Can’t believe I wasted time reading this….. :-{

  40. Jeleel May 28, 2019

    Draw a decision tree

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