Tired of colleagues rolling their eyes impatiently while you speak during meetings?
Always feel like you're saying the wrong thing or have nothing valuable to contribute?
Fear not! What you need is a pocket full of clever stock sayings you can break out the next time everyone at the table stares at you silently and expectantly.
1. "So, where are we at with this?"
It doesn't matter if your meeting has just kicked off, or you maybe haven't been paying as much attention in conversation as you should have been.
"Where are we at with this?" sounds like you're expecting there's been progress.
If someone else is talking and you interject with this question, you effectively change the momentum and take control of the conversation.
This one line says: I expect you to answer to me.
2. "There are a lot of moving parts here. Can we make this more efficient?"
Even if it's actually a pretty simple and straightforward process, you've just thrown down the gauntlet and challenged everyone else in the room to do better.
Who can argue with greater efficiency?
Hey, it was your brilliant idea to begin with. Clearly your priorities are in the right place, so relax and let the rest of them actually come up with those efficiencies.
3. "What are the real tangibles?"
This one's great for cutting off ramble-talkers with pie-in-the-sky ideas, or impressing an employer with by cutting straight to the heart of the matter.
It's way more polite than demanding, "What in the hell are you getting at?" but accomplishes pretty much the same thing.
4. "We need to make this a cross-platform initiative."
Everything should be a cross-platform initiative!
If someone points out this buzzword doesn't really apply, roll your eyes and inform them cross-platform isn't limited to computers. Remind them that people are cross-platform, too, and then tap your forehead and walk away slowly so they can chew on that.
5. "But will it scale?"
Will what scale--whatever it is, is it actually scalable?
Just operate from the premise that everything should scale. If it's not blatantly obvious how it will scale, you'll have your colleagues puzzling over it for hours. Will it scale? Well, we're not sure--but great question, Larry. This tip, by the way, comes from a witty Sarah Cooper post over on Medium.
6. "Let's utilize all of our assets."
Who wouldn't want to use all of their assets? No one can argue with this statement.
Watch the eyes around the table as you utter this one. You'll practically see their wheels turning as their eyes dart from one to another--"Who hasn't been utilizing all the assets? WHO?"
7. "How did you come to that conclusion?"
It sounds like you're making an honest effort here to understand where the other person is coming from, even if you're really just buying a 30-second reprieve from the monotony of it all by toying with them.
8. "You almost have my buy-in."
This is a great line when you just need to buy a bit of extra time or want to rattle your colleague. You're telling them, you're almost there, but not quite.
Try harder, would you?
I'm not quite there yet.
9. "Let's take it up a level."
Another level! What would that even look like?
Who knows, but you've just made it clear your vision is bigger is than the rest of them. Watch them sweat it out, trying to figure out what this magical level only you can see is like.
10. "Can we take a step back here?"
If the conversation had moved on and left you behind, rein it back in instantly with a well-timed, "Hey guys, can we take a step back here?" (Another great one-liner from Cooper's post.)
Whoever made the last few points will stare daggers at you, as you're basically saying they're off track and went off on a tangent. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't--it doesn't matter.
Bonus points if you follow this up with something like, "Does this align with our core values?"
That should kick off an interesting conversation (you can tune out again).