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100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying by Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper has appeared smart in virtually every meeting she’s ever attended, even the virtual ones. During her time at Yahoo! and Google, Sarah began jotting down these tricks while pretending to pay attention.

Soon after, she created the satirical blog,, read by hundreds of thousands around the world. Sarah lives with her husband Jeff in San Francisco and, when not making fun of everything, enjoys stand-up comedy, 90s rock, and both sunny and cloudy days equally.

And, interesting fact: she, like your humble host is the youngest of four children!

The Host’s Perspective:

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, she 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!

Listen to the Interview: 

Show Notes

100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings How to Get By Without Even Trying by Sarah Cooper

How to America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

Sarah Cooper’s Blog (

About 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (

These tricks make you look smart in meetings:

6 Tips on How to Be a Thought Leader:

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