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4 Tips for Maintaining a Poker Face around the Boardroom Table

As most people know about me, I tend not to be a gambler. And I wish I could say it’s because of my high ideals and incredible morals. But instead it’s because I know I won’t win. And in gambling—just as in important meetings and corporate politics—winning is the goal.

Eyes Don’t Lie

A glimmer in my eyes shows my happiness, my eagerness, my downright excitement at my coming turn.  Conversely, a glare and steely face shows I’d rather take a restroom break. And not come back.

The fact is, around a friendly table with a low ante, a couple drinks and some laughter, my unstoic foibles make for a hysterical evening.

If only that were true around a boardroom table and in important meetings.

The Requisites of Boardroom Politics

Over time, I’ve had to work on my poker face. When in a leadership position, you learn pretty quickly to put the jokes and emotions aside to make room for stoicism. For unparalleled professionalism.

Particularly as a new kid on the block, you don’t want to give your game away too quickly.

For me, maintaining that boardroom perfection didn’t come altogether naturally. So, I learned to improvise.

Training via ‘Silence of the Lambs’

I put some serious thought into how to maintain a poker face in important meetings. And here are four solid tips, from one consummate professional to another, in no particular order, on maintaining your demeanor in important corporate meetings.

4 Meeting Tips from Silence of the Lambs:

1.       Bite your tongue. Literally. Don’t knock it until you try it.
2.       Pinch yourself. Not so hard that it leaves a bruise. That would just be weird.
3.       Hold your breath. You’ll find you’ll build a tolerance over time, which could come in handy during a heated game of Marco Polo.
4.       Fake it until you make it. Practice staring intently, just over someone’s head, with a barely there waxy smile.

Signing Off…

What I lack in a poker face, I more than make up for in sincerity, enthusiasm, honesty and actual know-how.

Perhaps I’m not the best person to lean on for boardroom etiquette. I may be just as likely to crack a joke … after giving a 5-star presentation that leaves people begging for more, of course. Because what I do know inherently is how to read an audience.

About Jill Collins

Jill Collins at j.comm marketing is a true marketing and data professional who specializes in breathing new life into brands and finding money in donor databases. She is a proven and trusted partner when it comes to understanding an organization and its culture. Her talent lies in marrying a client’s wants and needs with logistics, both in marketing and fundraising. Give Jill a shot. She won’t let you down.