This post first appeared on www.weforum.org.
If you’re trying to get ahead in the corporate world, appearing smart in meetings should be your top priority. This can be hard if you find yourself daydreaming about Mexico, margaritas or queso cheese dip.
If this happens, keep one of these tricks in your back pocket so you always look like you know what everyone’s talking about even though you definitely do not.
If a technical term is used, stop the person and say, “I think some folks here might not know what that is, could you explain it for them?” or “I think we might have different interpretations of that word, can you describe how you’reusing it?” This way you look like you’re trying to get everyone up to speed, and you can finally figure out what that technical term means.
Anytime you hear a multi-word phrase, turn that phrase into an acronym on the fly (OTF) and repeat it back to them. This works best with three-word phrases such as “point of contact” (POC), “public relations nightmare” (PRN), or “product management system” (PMS).
No one looks like they have more on their plate than someone with sticky notes all over their laptop, am I right? What do those sticky notes say? What do those bullet points and double underlines mean? It means you’re important.
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone was told they weren’t needed? It’s the most embarrassing thing ever. It’s also a great thing to do to someone you don’t particularly like. After they arrive, wait until just after the meeting starts and point to that person. Let them know they can leave because they really aren’t needed. This power play will get you through the rest of the meeting looking like a real VP.
Slide decks are only as great as their giant, useless appendixes, so make sure yours has a ton of useless, not even remotely relevant slides in it. You’ll look like you really did your research.
When someone says we’re conflating two issues, don’t you immediately think they’re smarter than you? I know I do. I don’t even know what conflating means but I know once I say it, it’ll be impressive, and definitely accurate.
If you’re ever struggling for something to say, just take a noun and verbalize it. Using simple words in new and interesting ways will creativize your presence.
No one should ever be able to predict if you’re going to like or approve of anything. You know, like how it is with CEOs. The best way to fake this is to randomly alternate between agreeing and disagreeing. You’ll be perceived as a mystery and everyone will be on the edge of their seats wondering what you’re going to say.
People who are never surprised by anything always seem wise beyond their years, don’t they? By saying things are “pretty obvious,” you make it seem like you saw it coming all along, and have more experience than anyone else in the room.
Show your coworkers you really care about what happened in the meeting by asking for an email summary, but also show them how valuable your time is by making it clear someone else needs to do this.