Be the Smartest Person in the Room


A Guest Post by Drew Slater

1148987_10103384732500783_1169890818_nI’ve always believed you learn more from your experiences or what your teacher says rather than from a textbook. I know you remember a phrase, a quote or a speech one of your professors gave that still resonates with you to this day. During my junior year in college, my professor told the entire class to, “always be the smartest person in the room.” Seems simple enough, right? And then it sets in …

I remember thinking “How am I always supposed to be the smartest person in the room?” I’m surely going to be in rooms with people with higher IQs, more advanced degrees and my superiors, so is it even possible? Absolutely.

Being the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean you need the highest IQ, the highest degree or the highest title. Being the smartest person in the room simply requires everyone in the room believing you are the smartest person in the room. Perception is everything.

As a marketer or communicator you need to earn the respect of your clients, your prospects and your colleagues. How do you do that? Before you get the chance to walk the walk, you need to talk to talk. You need to have everyone respect you when you are talking. You need to be able to talk about anything at any notice. Unless you have a niche type of client, your client literally could be anyone – a not-for-profit, a government subsidiary, a pizza joint or a hospital. Each is very different, yet all are possible clientele.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you come off as the smartest person in the room when that meeting ends.

-  Be prepared – You should never go into a meeting unprepared, whether it’s being caught off guard by the time/day or by the subject matter…neither should be tolerated. Always set the time and day which works for you and make sure to set reminders. The easiest way to make sure you get prepared is to set appointments on calendar to research everything possible about your client/prospect, so you can prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are the more confident you’ll come off.

-  Read daily – Stay up to date with current events locally, nationally and even globally. There are so many outlets literally a click a way, which makes it inexcusable to not know what is going on. Your client/prospect might bring up something in passing and if you don’t know about it, whether it’s relevant to your meeting or not, you will lose a little bit of credibility.

-  Listen – I know you have great ideas and you want to share them, but sometimes you just need to sit back and listen. Listen to not only what is being said, but also how it is being said. Pick up on the tone, the body language and then the message. Don’t react too fast or rash. Keep the rule “listen twice, speak once” on your mind and you’ll be fine.

-  Don’t be afraid to say no – I hope they aren’t looking to hire you to be a yes man (or woman). Feel free to stand your ground and respectfully tell them you disagree with their idea and then explain why. THAT is the important part. You can’t simply disagree with something and not give an alternate viewpoint. You are smart; don’t be afraid to show it. Your client will respect your thoughts and the fact you didn’t simply roll over, play dead and do whatever crazy idea they had.

If you learn how to be the smartest person in the room, you will always have an upper hand. Don’t feel like you can’t accomplish this because you didn’t get straight A’s. The tips above will certainly help you become the smartest person in any room you walk into and all of them surprisingly easy. Please don’t be shy to let us know if any of these or any other tips have worked for you!

Drew Slater is a Miami native who graduated from the University of South Florida and is currently an account executive in the marketing departments for a Fortune 500 company. He has a strong passion for education, whether it is learning or teaching, and sees education as the key to success. In his spare time you can find Drew marathon training, soaking in the sun at the beach or cheering his hometown Heat or Dolphins on TV. 

You can follow Drew on Twitter @drewhslater


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Oliver Han says:

    When I saw the title, I couldn’t help thinking about another similar saying that I constantly hear from my professors, “keep your position at the meeting.” The two sayings are sort of the same, but also have some differences.
    For this post, it gives me more encourage and push on self-upgrading rather than pursuing my professional career. What’s more, I find a sense of surprising closeness in this article– quite frankly, I don’t think I have the highest IQ, and I am a foreign language student in my class. So being a “smart” student seems to be more appealing and attractive to me. After reading this post, I become more confident about my studies and myself, because I don’t need to be literally the smartest student in my class, but I can be the most hardworking one (even though it is also hard to achieve.) Always having something in my mind to say is the key to success in the future. And how to obtain the contents in my mind is very important to me. It is a long way to go, but I think I am ready to take it.
    Thank you for posting this inspiring article here, I learned a lot.

  2. Thanks, Oliver, for sharing your thoughts about Drew’s article. Having a positive and confident attitude (which you do) is a big part of the process.

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