How To Look Smart In Meetings – 8 Do’s And Don’ts

Ever wonder why some people look smart in meetings even though you know they’re utterly hopeless? Of course you have. You’re on the up and up. You’re climbing that corporate ladder and have no intention of stopping now.

But, if you’re going to make it to the top, you’ve got to learn to look smart in meetings without actually contributing. Why? Contributions are what get you called out for being wrong! You’d know that if you were really on the up and up.

Don’t worry. You’re not totally hopeless. If you want that corner office and the ability to have 3 whiskeys at lunch, keep reading!

Or, you can skip the article and go right to the part where I help you turn your business into a revenue machine.

Don’t: Call People On Their BS

Step 1: never say anything when someone is lying. It doesn’t matter how obvious or blatant the lie is. You never call someone out. When you call someone out, you hurt their very sensitive ego. And people with hurt egos aren’t going to help you climb that ladder! 

If you call someone out, you risk bringing out the truth. And we never want to bring out the truth. The truth comes with all sorts of ugly problems, problems that we can avoid dealing with by just pretending they don’t exist. And how do you make sure you look smart? Why, you never have any problems in your life. And how do you make sure you don’t have problems? You stick that head right there in the sand!

Pro tip: This goes doubly if it’s your boss that’s lying. Everyone knows they’re lying and you saying something won’t change a thing. I don’t care if they say the entire expense account is empty even though you know they just rented a private jet made of cocaine. You never call your boss out. Just let them lie you to death!

Do: Nod And Smile When Someone’s Wrong

Being totally and completely wrong is a privilege that is earned. When someone is wrong about something, you should always assume they have the right to be wrong. You nod, smile, and let the moment pass. What you don’t do is start conflict. Conflict never helps anything.

When you nod and smile, you’re letting that person know that you think they’re right. And, since they think they’re right…and they think they’re smart, it stands to reason that you must be smart too! Look at that. You’ve earned yourself the respect of a coworker with nothing but a nod. Not only that, but that person is 100% sure you’re smart and they will never change their mind. Why? Because now their opinion of themselves is tied to you!

You’ve got them trapped. great job!


Don’t: Offer Input When Asked

If someone asks for your input on a project or plan, it’s a trap.  Don’t answer. They’re trying to make you the scapegoat. If you want to look smart in meetings, you must always avoid accountability!

Think about it. If they get you to insert your own opinion into a discussion, suddenly you’re liable for the outcome. They’re covering their own butts by asking for your input. That way, if it all goes wrong, they can blame your stupid idea for screwing it up. 

Absolutely never give your input. Instead, just ponder for a bit and say, “let me write up some ideas and get back to you.” That’s code for, “Screw off, Bob. I know what you’re up to.”


Do: Agree With Whatever Your Boss Says

This should be self-explanatory. They’re you’re boss. If there is 1 master tip for how to look smart in meetings, it’s always do what the boss says. 

Agree with them even if they say up is down. Agree with them if they think it’s a good idea to open up a hamburger restaurant in a Hindu neighborhood. 

The one thing you have to be careful of is being the blame here. Smart bosses don’t accept responsibility for their stupid ideas.They have you for that. So, when you agree, always agree exactly 1% less than someone else in the room. That way if the whole idea goes sideways, you can always say that person was the REAL proponent of the plan.


Don’t: Bring Up Nagging Issues

You know what ruins parties? Talking about your marital problems in front of your guests. Trust me. I do it all the time as part of my grand social experiment.

But, what I don’t do is bring up old, ugly issues in a meeting. If I want to look smart in a meeting, I only bring up problems that I can easily fix. I say things like, “We were out of toner, but I replaced it already. You’re welcome, stupids.” 

When you bring up long-term problems, you’re usually bringing up a problem that will be hard to solve. If it were easy to fix, someone like you would have fixed it already. But those long term issues usually go like this: 

  • You: Hey team, I thought we could talk about the fact that our second office is still flooded from a year ago.
  • Me: Well, what do you plan to do about that?
  • You: Oh…I don’t know. I’m not really in charge of that department. I just thought we should bring it up.
  • Me: Oh yeah? I guess that’s what we do in meetings now. Just bring the problems to the boss without solutions. You’re fired.
  • All: (laughing at you for being dumb)

See how well that went for you? Don’t bring up problems like that. Let them fester. When the company fails, you can just get a new job. That’s better than being laughed at. Meanwhile you’re this goober:


Do: Assume It Will Fix Itself Eventually

Trust me. It will. No need to look for solutions. Let nature run its course. If god wanted the basement of the other office to not be flooded, he would have built it out of sponges or whatever.


Don’t: Ever Commit To Anything

Ever. If someone asks you a question you say you’ll get back to them on that. When they want to know if you’ll handle a project, you need to check with your team first.

No matter what, under pain of death, you will not commit to completing anything. People who look smart in meetings never fail to complete their projects or tasks. And, if you never get assigned anything, you can never fail.

This serves the dual purpose of giving you plenty of time to get hammered at lunch and lets you really lay into other people when they fail their goals. Remember, the true success is not the task at hand, it’s the punishment of the person who failed to achieve the task, because you didn’t help them.

I hope you’re taking notes. This is gold right here.


Do: Avoid Hard Goals And Deadlines

You should always have like 5-10 projects you are “working on”. The more loosely those projects are defined, the better. Just like in the last tip, if you want to look smart in meetings, you have to avoid failure. Building on that, you should always look like you’re on the path to success.

When you’ve got a ton of projects it makes you look like a go-getter, a real team player. That’s how you get hired somewhere else for more money! But, if any of those projects ever get sandbagged or you miss a deadline, people will be aware of how dumb you really are. We don’t want that.

That’s why you make sure your tasks are very ill defined and the dates are just as bad. Check this handy scale to see how you’re doing.


How Smart You Look Deadlines Goals / Defining Success
Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona Next Tuesday by 5:00 PM I will submit a plan for increasing revenue by 2% in the SW region.
Chevy Chase in National Lampoon In the next few weeks I will submit a plan for increasing revenue.
Adam Sandler as himself Soon. Very soon. I will analyze ways to increase revenue.
Dustin Hoffman as Rainman Probably this year. I will look into our revenue model
Nikoli Friggin Tesla I’ll get an ETA to you soon. My team will increase profitability over the long term
Jeff Whittle This is a strategic goal. We don’t set hard deadlines Our team will increase long term revenue potential