Finance Work Smart thinking: how to wow at your next meeting
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Smart thinking: how to wow at your next meeting

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Ah, meetings. Clearly the invention of a genius who either wanted to: a) figure out a way to procrastinate pre-Facebook, or b) impress his or her bosses by looking efficient and powerful – all while doing nothing at all.

Let’s be clear here: meetings are not about getting any actual work done. They’re simply a handy arena for you to look more intelligent than you really are.

So, pop on a smart-looking pair of specs and stride on in. Here are 10 ways to bamboozle your fellow attendees with your own (half-baked) brilliance.

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1. Pretend you didn’t get lost trying to find meeting room 6.3.1.7A

Rightio, let’s not mention to anyone that you’ve spent the past 10 minutes walking in increasingly frustrating circles around Level 6 trying to isolate the few square metres of beige carpet and leather-backed chairs that is meeting room 6.3.1.7A. Who names these things? An alien?

Anyway, whatever – you’re here now. Enter the room with purpose, looking important and overworked. You’re sorry, but your meeting with the ELT (note: this is different to a BLT) went over time. They needed your high-level input on Project Tsunami. If anyone asks what Project Tsunami is, sigh and make reference to its ‘in-confidence’ nature. Of course, if you work in a smaller office you may need to turn on the charm and say you had an important phone call with revenue-building potential.

2. Stage an early hit

Some people talk way too much in meetings. You’re not going to be one of them. Strike early by asking the first question. Who really cares what it is? ‘So where are we at with this?’ is a solid start and requires little knowledge of anything at all on your part.

Deflecting to someone who loves talking and sounds vaguely intelligent is also another guaranteed winner: ‘So Sharon, how are things progressing with the analysis of the vertical integration?’

You can then use the rest of the meeting to kick back and daydream, or line up a Tinder date for tonight.

3. Dress like an exec – or a Byron Bay start-up

Mark Zuckerberg
LIKE: If you started Facebook a grey t-shirt always looks intelligent. Photo: Getty

You have a few choices here. You could go the tried-and-tested route and look more important than you really are by draping yourself in some VIP accessories, like a sharp suit, a Rolex (preferably a fake you’ve bought in Thailand) or a statement pair of glasses.

If your hair is curly, straighten it to look extra powerful. If you’ve got a face like a baby’s, cultivate a beard. Always keep your iPhone 6 (plus size if possible) or android nearby to allude to your importance without having to say a thing.

If you really have confidence, wear the same grey t-shirt every single day, just like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. You’re clearly too powerful to consider fashion.

4. Use massive or obscure words that no one really understands

Who really gets to the top in this world? Is it the people who are the smartest, or the people who just pretend they’re the smartest? It’s the latter.

Sprinkle your statements with impressive-sounding words like ‘ubiquitous’, ‘Luddite’, ‘interface,’ ‘widgets’ and ‘tangibles’. ‘Building capability’ and ‘360 degree feedback’ are other phrases that should be used with abandon, particularly in government circles.

5. ‘Sorry, I’d really better take this’

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If you carry yourself like Mean Girls‘ Regina George no one will question you.

As your phone begins to softly vibrate on the meeting table, you spot an incoming call from David. No one’s to know it’s Davo from indoor cricket wanting to line up some weekend drinks. Cough, excuse yourself and with conviction announce to all that you really must take this.

Your fellow attendees might feel a little envious that no one is calling them on such urgent matters.

6. Handball to others while pretending to be interested

If you’re getting a little tired of participating, sit back in your chair – preferably a little further away from the table than everyone else – and say something like: “That’s an excellent point Phil; could you explain how you came to that conclusion?”

Something like: ‘Hmmm, yes, we all love blue sky thinking but what are the real tangibles here?’ is also an excellent way of baffling your colleagues with bollocks, while still appearing pretty bloody brilliant.

7. Always use acronyms

If you work in an organisation that loves its in-house acronyms, pepper your questions and answers with a heavy dose of indistinguishable gibberish. It will be well worth your ROI, particularly if new employees have to ask you to explain it to them. This will make you appear even more learned.

8. Casually reference technology

Neo Matrix
You won’t need to plug-in to the Matrix to sound tech savvy in a work meeting. Photo: Flickr / Morrosv7

Unless you work in IT, you can be guaranteed that there are at least a few people in the room who will begin to look alarmed when you turn up the techo-meter.

A quick Google before the meeting will arm you with a few bite-sized pieces of nerdy knowledge that you can throw in to boost your stocks, and leave others feeling less than adequate. Think ‘networks’, ‘connectivity’, ‘flux capacitors’ and ‘open source’.

9. Note-taking

Always take a notebook to meetings, especially if no one else does. At obscure points in the meeting, say under your breath ‘a-ha!’ and writing something illegible in your notebook.

Pretending to know shorthand is a sure-fire way to make people wonder what you’re writing down, and what they’re failing to grasp, even if it’s just you writing your shopping list in secret.

10. Using the meeting to set up further meetings

So you’ve been sitting there for 55 minutes, and nothing has actually happened yet. Do not fear – this is your chance to look pro-active and hyper-efficient. Suggest a further discussion to work on the ‘progress’ that has been made in the meeting so far.

Setting a date will see the remaining five minutes happily fly by, and leave you looking like the only person with a clue in this high-powered joint.

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