Meetings are a great opportunity to show off your smarts.

Think about it:

You have your team members’ undivided attention. It’s the perfect occasion to shine. But at the same time, you’re not sure exactly what you need to do to make a good impression.

In this article, we’ll talk about just that. Read on to find out the 10 best ways to appear smart in meetings.


1) Good meeting manners make you look poised and focused

If there’s one thing you need to do to seem smart in meetings, it’s this:

Keep up meeting manners.

You know, things like arriving on time and not checking your phone during meetings. Bad meeting habits make you look like someone who’s bad at managing his or her time. And that’s not how you want your co-workers to see you, right?

Instead, stick to meeting behaviors that make you come off as someone who’s laser-focused:

  • Rule #1: Be on time. This way, you show others just how much you respect their time.
  • Leave your phone and laptop at your desk. You won’t need them, anyway.
  • Don’t hijack the conversation. While it’s important that you make a contribution to the conversation, listening is just as important.
  • Focus on the meeting. You’re in the meeting room for a reason, so make sure you contribute with your unique skills and experience.

This leads us to the next point, namely:


2) The best way to get people to notice you? Speak up!

Want to know how NOT to appear smart in meetings?

Sit silently throughout the meeting. People simply can’t know how smart you are if you don’t show them.

But most of us know the struggle is real: public speaking is one of the most common social phobias. So what can you do if you dread speaking up – but have to if you want to appear smart during your meeting?

Two things:

Practice and prepare.

Practice by visualizing public speaking. Record yourself and then go over your recording to adjust things like tone and voice.

Prepare by going over the meeting agenda. Didn’t get an agenda? Ask the meeting manager to give you a few pointers on what you’ll discuss at the meeting.


3) Use the right words – they make a big difference

The way you speak has a major impact on how other people see you and how they judge what you say.

After all, filler words, such as “like” and “umm”, are distracting. “I think” and “I believe” weaken your argument.

So, skip them. Now, getting rid of an annoying habit is easier said than done. But start practicing speaking without throwing in a filler word in every sentence and you’ll get there.

The result is pretty neat:

You come off as smarter.


4) Don’t try to sound smart if you want to appear smart

Types of meetings

A lot of us make this simple mistake:

We use too big and fancy words.

But unfortunately, that’s not the way to go. The smarter you try to sound, the less intelligent people perceive you. Plus, using unusual words confuses people because they don’t necessarily know what that word means. This is especially true in meetings where meeting participants can’t pull out a dictionary.

What more, by using big words, you might come across as a know-it-all. At the same time, we come off as smarter if we admit that we don’t know something and promise to find out the answer.

So to appear smart, do this:

Stick to simple and direct language and own up when you don’t know something.  


5) Use power poses to subconsciously show your strength

People don’t rate you and your message based on what you say. They also rate you based on subconscious cues.

In fact, those cues can have a much bigger impact than the content of your message. For example, how you pose signals how confident you feel. If you stand with your arms crossed, you come off as withdrawn. If you slouch, you seem insecure.

Your pose has a big impact on how much strength you signal. And if you come off as strong, this increases how smart people think you are. To signal more strength, sit up straight and keep your arms spread on the table or on the sides.

You can use power poses even before the meeting. An experiment by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School showed that people who pose in high-power poses are much likelier to feel confident than those who adopt low-power poses, like slouching.

Plus, if you act confident, people will see you as smarter. People who overestimate their abilities come off as more competent than those who don’t.  


6) Listen more and summarize meeting points

It’s important to speak up during meetings, but it’s equally important to listen to others. You don’t want to end up as the person who gives a lengthy monologue without giving others a chance to chime in.

A good way to position yourself as a key player during the meeting is listening, speaking up occasionally, and then summarizing all the important points at the end of the meeting. Just remember to give credit to those who came up with the ideas.

This way, you come off as someone who engages in the conversation and has an overview of the big picture.

And does that help you appear smart during the meeting?

You bet.


7) Use science to strengthen your points

People are persuaded by things that seem authoritative. And that’s something you can use to your advantage to appear smart in meetings.

For example, a study by Cornell University shows that much more people believe a statement if it’s accompanied by a graph. At your next meeting, try this out by adding graphs to support what you say.

What more, try using supporting evidence by citing reliable studies and research. Using authoritative sources make you seem more knowledgeable. At least, your co-workers will be amazed at how much you’ve prepared for the meeting.


8) Change how you speak to get your message across

There’s a science and an art to speaking in a way that makes you look (that is, sound) intelligent.

According to a study by the University of Michigan, people who talk moderately fast with short pauses are most successful when trying to persuade someone. Notably, people who talk slowly are seen as less intelligent.

So at your next meeting, try to speak slower or faster than you normally do. Remember to use your posture to strengthen the way you speak and to come across as someone who knows what he or she is doing.


9) Your clothes have a huge impact on how others see you

meeting management

The way we dress has a huge impact on what others think of us. Formal clothes and lab coats make us seem more intelligent. So if you want to appear smarter, dress smartly.

But that’s not all – our clothes determine our own performance. For example, it’s been shown that formal business attire makes us feel more powerful and increases our abstract thinking.

So to feel and come off as smarter, dress to impress.


10) Do these simple things to connect with other meeting participants

It goes without saying:

If people like you, they’re more likely to see you as an intelligent person. And there are some simple things you can do to connect with people during meetings.

First, smile. People who smile are seen as more intelligent than those with more serious facial expressions. However, this seems to depend on your culture. For example, Germans and Chinese link smiles with intelligence. At the same time, Russians are more likely to see people who smile as less intelligent. But if your culture values smiles in professional settings, you know what you need to do at your next meeting.

Second, look people in the eye. A study by Loyola Marymount University showed that people who looked their conversation partner in the eye were perceived as much more intelligent than those who didn’t. If your meeting includes several people, make sure you look everyone in the eye when you speak. If that’s not possible (say, there are too many people in the meeting room), look key players in the eye, like the meeting manager or your boss.


Conclusion: How to be the smartest person in the room

So that’s it. These are our 10 tricks to appear smart in meetings.

To sum it up, you should focus on the things you say and subconscious cues. Things like your manners, how you dress and how you say things influence how people see you.

Most importantly, use these tips. Put them to the test at your next meeting and you’ll be perceived as more intelligent by your co-workers. Pretty nice, huh?

Now over to you:

Do you have tips you want to share? Questions? Let me know in the comment section below.