How Not To Appear Stupid When Subjected to Severe Boredom During Lengthy Meetings

Confrontations with stupidity often occur in the workplace, one of the most vexing being the times we’re expected to stay awake during meetings of questionable merit and interminable length. Long and boring. But, there are ways to appear intelligent even while nodding off.

I’ve sat on several boards of directors for minuscule, but nonetheless worthy, organizations, as well as for my place of business. At one of these board (or is it bored?) meetings, I was once asked to give my opinion of the topic being bandied about. The subject matter was so absurdly tedious, that to this day, I am clueless as to what everyone was discussing. I’d tuned out.

“What do you think, Keli?” asked the President who sat, without blinking, in her high-back, leather, throne-like chair, giving me the feeling that she was rarely wrong.

She didn’t have to ask twice. Upon hearing my name, my pulse raced and little beads of perspiration formed on my forehead (fortunately, I wore wispy bangs at the time so without close examination, the sweat remained hidden beneath my hair). I don’t like to be caught unprepared. Especially when no one’s to blame, but myself. The setting suddenly appeared unreal, possessed of its own laws. I paused, as if carefully pondering, then replied, “I think this matter should be given greater thought before any decisions are made.”

The President nodded her head in approval; I had successfully extricated myself at no great cost, by a somewhat vague, non-committal response.

Changing the subject would have worked also, but that must be handled with greater skill as it could get out of hand should anyone suspect the true purpose behind the abrupt shift. Not easy to do in front of a weary audience eager for some real action.

I could have confessed that I’d drifted off into faraway mental frontiers, but that may have led to undesirable consequences as well as to my embarrassment, even though it was what I deserved. Or was it? For heaven’s sake, if these meetings moved along at a proper pace and were accompanied by palatable eats, who wouldn’t gladly give greater attention? Serving M&Ms or donuts does not promote good health or alertness. Delicately prepared hors d’oeuvres would keep me happily occupied and awake. Such meetings should not scrimp on sustenance.

In order to emerge unscathed from these situations, it’s important to carry an unfailing sense of self-assurance around, or at least appear to, as in my case. Had I folded, I surely would have been branded a stuper (short for an openly stupid person). Not being mentally present at a meeting should not be an impediment to being a successful participant.

Why not think?


5 Responses to “How Not To Appear Stupid When Subjected to Severe Boredom During Lengthy Meetings”

  1. Jillian says:

    Haha… Information like this is helpful, but whenever I’m in a similar situation I always wind up telling the truth. “What do you think Jillian?” My response: “What was that, I wasn’t paying attention.”


  2. Dan says:

    Back when I was still “actively contributing to society”, there were many tediously boring meetings that sometimes left me embarrassed with my replies as a result of my inattention. And your temporizing was a classic. Regards.

  3. Keli says:


    Good for you! In my case, however, the President would not have tolerated inattention. So I did my best to be helpful despite my wandering mind.


    I hope that should you once again become an active contributor, my suggestions will be helpful to you.

  4. Paulyn says:

    LOL! That was a good one, Keli! If it happened to me, I would probably have wished I vanish at that very moment! Maybe I could use that line when I’m stuck in a totally boring conversation with someone I’m totally uninterested to chitchat with…that person might easily get the hint…what do you think?

  5. Jennifer says:

    I can’t bear to think of how many times I’ve spaced out during deppositions … oops! depositions … and I’m keeping the record! LOL! Unfortunately if a lawyer wants a read-back, I’m not gonna be able to get away with a lame answer … also there are NEVER delicate hors dÂ’oeuvres …

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