The Development Source

Tis’ the Season: Ten Ways to Appear Alert and Smart at Proposal Meetings

Most of us would like to believe that the meetings we lead as Proposal Managers are lively, engaging, brief, and inspiring. However, I seriously doubt if attendees hold the same high opinion of our meeting skills as we do.

So, inspired by an article in the Huffington Post by Sarah Cooper on “10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings,” I would like to provide my own list of ten behaviors that will definitely make you appear alert, engaged, important, and highly intelligent at a proposal meeting.

For maximum effectiveness, I recommend that you do more than one of these, regardless of the length or the quality of the meeting. In fact, if you think the meeting is really useless, I strongly recommend that you treat this list like a Chinese buffet and pick multiple behaviors, even if they appear incongruous together. Your colleagues may find you inscrutable, but at the same time mystifying in an attractive way.

1. Check your cell phone and then quickly announce in a hushed tone that you must leave the meeting to take an important call. It may be your dog sitter, but your colleagues will definitely be impressed by your apparent importance.
2. Take copious notes.
3. Nod sagaciously when one of your superiors talks, and then revert to #2.
4. Repeat the last statement that one of your superiors just said, but more slowly.
5. Ask the presenter to go back one slide.
6. Translate percentages into fractions. If the meeting leader says, “90% of our web users like this function,” quickly agree by saying, “yes, about nine out of ten.” This will be considered by your dozing colleagues as an impressive sign of alertness and math skills.
7. Say “yes” audibly while your superiors talk, regardless of the relevance or quality of their comments. They will undoubtedly consider your supine behavior a sign of great discernment and intelligence.
8. Rush into the meeting a moment before it begins and simultaneously announce in a panting voice, “sorry, but I had to finish up something important.”
9. Draw a venn diagram, any venn diagram, on the whiteboard as you talk.
10.Liberally employ your formidable arsenal of proposal clichés in your speech. Particularly effective are peppering presentations with the following: 24/7, world class, best practices, “let’s take a step back,” best in breed, and Shipley processes, of course.

I doubt whether I have exhausted the clever ways you can appear alert and smart at proposal meetings. What would you add to this admittingly incomplete list?

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