The following is an excerpt from Sarah Coopers new book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (October 4, Andrews McMeel)
In a brainstorming meeting, the pressure of coming up with incrediblenew ideas can be debilitating. Luckily, the last thing most corporationswant is new ideas.
During these largely pointless exercises, the point is to contribute using the mere gravitas of your presence, make other peoples ideas seem like your ideas, and look like a true leader by questioning the efficiency of the whole process.
Here are 9 tricks to make you look like youre the creative force on your team.
- Leave to get water and ask if anyone needs anything
Just before the meeting starts, get up and ask if anyone needsanything. People will think youre so thoughtful, kind, and giving, plusyoull be able to disappear for 10 minutes no questions asked. Even ifno one wants anything, return with bottles of water, soda, and snacks.
Your colleagues will feel compelled to start drinking and snacking, andyour foresight will make them think you can really predict the future.
- Grab a pad of sticky notes and start drawing
While the topics are being introduced, grab one of those sticky notepads and start drawing meaningless flowcharts. Your colleagues willlook over at you with worried interest, wondering how youre comingup with so many complex ideas even before you know what thismeeting is for.
- Make an analogy thats so simple it sounds deep
When everyone is trying to define the problem, make an analogyabout baking a cake, or something just as completely unrelated. Yourcolleagues will nod their heads in agreement, even if they really dontunderstand how what youre saying is related to what theyre talkingabout. Talking completely over their heads will make you seem wildlytranscendent and intimidatingly creative, even though the truth is youreally just like cake.
- Ask if were asking the right questions
Nothing makes you seem smarter than when you question thequestions by asking if theyre the right questions. If someone respondsby asking you what you think the right questions are, say you justasked one.
Sidebar: How to strategically shoot down small ideas
Wonder if an idea seems too small so your colleagues see you as a big thinker and a gamechanger.
Use one of these phrases:
- But how is it disruptive?
- Is this 10x?
- Is this the future?
- I thought that was dead.
- Whats the big Win?
- But isnt Apple doing that?
- Use an idiom
Using an idiom to question an idea is a subtle, smart way ofquestioning it. Here are some idioms to choose from:
- Isnt that gilding the lily?
- Isnt that putting lipstick on a pig?
- Seems like were polishing a turd.
- Develop a quirky, creative habit that gets your juices flowing
Develop a quirky habit that helps you think and gets your creativejuices flowing. This could be anything from showing up in yourpyjamas, meditating on the floor, jogging on the spot, throwing aball against the wall, air drumming with your favourite drumsticks,or all of those things at the same time. Even if youre not actuallycoming up with any ideas, your colleagues will be intimidated by youruncontrollable creative energy.
Sidebar: How to strategically shoot down big ideas
Wonder if an idea seems too big so your superiors see how much you care about company resources.
Use one of these phrases:
- Is it too disruptive?
- How does this fit into the roadmap?
- This seems like a pivot.
- Isnt that a non-starter?
- Isnt that out of scope?
- But how would you test that?
- Will that work internationally?
- Say how you think the CEO would respond
Make your colleagues think that you have a very close relationshipwith the CEO by bringing up how you think she would respond to anidea. Mention your CEO by her first name. Say you might run this byher during your next powwow. Congratulate everyone for coming upwith something shed like. By associating yourself so closely with theCEO, people will start to think of you as some kind of CEO-in-training.
- Ask if were creating the right framework, platform, or model
You will always appear as if youre thinking bigger than everyoneelse by bringing up a framework for moving forward, or a model ofthinking, or how we can turn this into a platform. Its a very meta wayof blowing everyones minds and masking the fact that you have noidea what everyones talking about.
- When everyone seems to like an idea, yell out Ship it!
Therell come a point when everyone seems to be really excited aboutan idea or direction. At this point you should try to be the first personto yell out Ship it! Sure, its a funny thing to say that will make peoplelaugh, but doing this will also convey some authority on your partto both end the meeting and make a final decision, even though youhave no power to do either.