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100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying Paperback – October 4, 2016
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"Cleverly written and illustrated, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings is sly satire that will bring endless joy to anyone who has ever endured the drudgery of corporate life."
―Dan Lyons, writer for HBO's Silicon Valley and New York Times-bestselling author of Disrupted
"A hilarious, enlightening read for anyone who's ever been stuck in a conference room. With delightful snark and sarcasm, Sarah cleverly skewers our coworkers for ridiculous behaviors that we would never, ever do. It's funny because it's true."
―Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times-bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
"I laughed so hard I had to leave the meeting I was in."
―Jake Knapp, New York Times-bestselling author of Sprint
"Sarah Cooper is uncannily spot on when describing the seemingly innocent behaviors of people attempting to impress others. It'll make you literally LOL."
―Christine Tsai, Founding Partner, 500 Startups
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If you’re like me, you’ve always hated having to sit through long, pointless, idiotic meetings at work. But now, I love those kinds of meetings. In fact, sometimes if I walk by a conference room full of co-workers who look like they’re enduring a soul-crushing, mind-numbing meeting that I haven’t been invited to, I’ll walk in and join the meeting. Thanks to Sarah Cooper’s book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, I can’t get enough of those meetings.
Here’s why. In 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, the author, a former employee of companies like Yahoo and Google, shows you how to appear smart in less than half the time it takes to actually learn something. For instance, trick #1 is drawing a Venn diagram. It doesn’t matter if your Venn diagram is wildly inaccurate; in fact, the more inaccurate, the better. Before you can even put the marker down your colleagues will begin fighting about what the labels should be and how big the circles should be. At this point you can slink back to your chair and get to real work – playing Candy Crush.
Or trick #2: translate percentage metrics into fractions. So, if someone says something like, “About 25% of all users click on this button,” jump in with, “So about one in four,” and then make a note of it. Your math skills will be the envy of everyone in the room.
Or trick #3 – encourage everyone to “take a step back.” If you’ve been sitting in a meeting where everyone else is talking and you haven’t said anything because you haven’t been paying attention, that’s a good time to go, “Guys, guy, guys, can we take a step back here?” All eyes will be on you – and your colleagues will be impressed at your ability to silence the fray. Bonus tip, follow that up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve here?
Presto, you just bought yourself another hour of looking smart. In the past, I would actually prepare for meetings. Boy was I dumb. Now I just follow the “best practices” in 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, and not only have I been promoted, I got a raise, too! It’s that easy! You know how we all make a fuss about celebrating a friend’s new job. I’m referring to how we go on our friends LinkedIn profile and hit the “congrats” button. Sure that’s a lot of effort that your friends really appreciate, but I’d like to suggest something that’s even better.
Just go on Amazon and send them a copy of 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re sharing something with them that will make them really successful in their new job. And they won’t forget that. Plus, the book even includes this cool poster!
And to listen to an interview with Sarah Cooper about 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, visit MarketingBookPodcast.com
This book has changed the game for me, and yes, I do consider most meetings to be a silly game. It's doubtful that I'll ever be able to meaningfully influence the outcome of the proposals presented at the meetings, but now at least I can shake them up and lead them to believe I'm a team player. I especially liked the chapter on "what to do with your hands during a networking event." I think that most people don't even realize they are using their hands so much when talking. I have practiced sitting on my hands while explaining something to another person. It's hard to do with your shoulders and head what your hands have also very ineffectively done. This chapter tells you what to do and they are quite creative.
Since leaving the room is normally my ultimate goal, the short section on "Leaving the room" has provided me with better alternatives than my usual plan of taking off and running for the door.
I've got another office meeting this next week. I've narrowed down about 20 new techniques I particularly liked in this book and I feel I can pull them off successfully. Actually might be great fun. Then I'll wait until some of the other attendees drop by my desk later on and ask if that was really me in the meeting or did I find my doppelganger and persuaded him to take my place? Or, heaven forbid, perhaps the boss will stop by and ask me to take over the next meeting. Ouch!!!
Is it really satire, or is it a thoughtful analysis of what's wrong with corporate America? Both! Have I done some of these things? I'm afraid so. Have any of these things advanced my career? Emphatically, no. Why do I tolerate it when others use these tricks in meetings I'm in? Because I just don't care anymore.
I suggest you buy a copy for every member of your team, ask them to memorize it, and call out numbers whenever someone uses one of the tricks. Eventually people simply announce the trick number instead of going through the pain of actually executing a trick.
Sort of like this famous parable: (see below as the review system doesn't allow links)
Maybe, just maybe, if we follow Sarah's lead, we can make corporate America great again.
A man is sent to prison for the first time. At night, the lights in the cell block are turned off, and his cellmate goes over to the bars and yells, "Number twelve!" The whole cell block breaks out laughing. A few minutes later, somebody else in the cell block yells, "Number four!" Again, the whole cell bloock breaks out laughing.
The new guy asks his cellmate what's going on. "Well," says the older prisoner, "we've all been in this here prison for so long, we all know the same jokes. So we just yell out the number instead of saying the whole joke."
So the new guy walks up to the bars and yells, "Number six!" There was dead silence in the cell block. He asks the older prisoner, "What's wrong? Why didn't I get any laughs?"
"Well," said the older man, "sometimes it's not the joke, but how you tell it."