5 tricks to appear smart in Brainstorming sessions

We have been having a lot of fun in our team this week trying out some of the techniques outlined in Sarah Cooper’s blog post.

In it Sarah, author of 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, introduces nine techniques to appear smart in brainstorming sessions.

Here are the five tricks that have pervaded nearly all of our sessions this week, with hilarious results.

1. Make an analogy that’s so simple it sounds deep

When everyone is trying to define the problem, make an analogy about sailing a ship, or something just as completely unrelated. Your team mates will nod their heads in agreement, even if they really don’t understand how what you’re saying is related to what they’re talking about.

2. Ask if we’re asking the right questions

Nothing makes you seem smarter than when you question the questions by asking if they’re the right questions. If someone responds by asking you what you think the right questions are, say you just asked one.

3. Use an idiom

Using an idiom to question an idea is a subtle, smart way of questioning it. Here are some idioms to choose from:

  • Isn’t that adding insult to injury?
  • Don’t you think that gives us the best of both worlds?
  • Well it does take two to tango
  • You know what they say – you can’t judge a book by its cover
  • I don’t think we should count our chickens before the eggs have hatched
  • I think we can kill two birds with one stone

4. Say how you think the CEO would respond

Making everyone think that you have a very close relationship with the CEO (or other senior person) by bringing up how you think they would respond to an idea. Mention your CEO by their first name. Congratulate everyone for coming up with something they’d like. By associating yourself so closely with power, people will start to think of you’ve got way more power than you actually have.

5. When everyone seems to like an idea, yell out ‘Ship it!’

There’ll come a point when everyone seems to be really excited about an idea or direction. At this point you should try to be the first person to yell out ‘Ship it!’ Doing this will, not only get people to laugh, but also convey some authority on your part to both end the meeting and make the final decision.

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