Whether you're trying to impress new friends or a new boss, turn around a bad reputation or catch the eye of a cute girl, it isn't all that hard to sound well educated and intelligent (even if you aren't!).
Using the Right Words
- Speak clearly and evenly. When you talk, use a clear and even voice. Start by working on keeping your tone and volume as even as possible. When you are prone to shouting or whispering, you might come across as less intelligent. In order to make your speech more clear, you’ll want to make sure you are not speaking too fast. You will also want to watch out for mumbling. Enunciating your words will also make you sound significantly more intelligent.
- Enunciation is saying words clearly, without slurring or dropping sounds. For example, you would want to be very careful to enunciate when saying the word “ship”, especially if you were talking quickly.
- You can use tongue twisters as an exercise to get you speaking at a good speed and make sure that you are enunciating correctly. Try saying: “Shep Schwab shopped at Scott's Schnapps shop. One shot of Scott's Schnapps stopped Schwab's watch.”
- Use correct grammar. When you speak, use proper grammar as much as possible. Don't worry about colloquialisms and common phrases but do make sure that most of your speech is correct. When you use improper grammar, it tells people (even if its not true) that you don't understand your own spoken language. This makes you look unintelligent.
- If you don't really know the proper grammar to use, listen to smart people talk and read a lot of high quality books. With a little effort, you'll pick it up with time.
- An example of improper grammar would be "You and me went for a walk" instead of "you and I went for a walk". Another example would be replacing words or cutting words, like saying "you been" instead of "you have been" or "I were/You was" instead of "I was/You were".
- Use and pronounce words correctly. There are few things that will make you look sillier than using words incorrectly or pronouncing them very wrong. This tends to happen with more complex words, and especially if you're trying to fake looking smarter by using really fancy vocabulary that you don't actually understand yet. Stick to words you really know.
- Common examples of mispronunciation include "nu-cu-lar" instead of "nu-cle-ar" and "sup-pos-eb-ly" instead of "sup-pos-ed-ly".
- An example of incorrect word usage would be "fellated" instead of "flouted".
- If you find yourself wanting to use a word but you're not 100% sure you know what it means or that you can say it correctly, write it down and look it up later.
- Cut down on filler language. Filler language is made up of words that you say while you're trying to think of what to say next. Everyone uses filler language, even if they don't realize it. This is stuff like "umm," "ahh," "err," "like," "I mean," and other things like that. The fill is different for every region and language but the effect is the same: you look like a slow thinker and it's harder to understand you.
- Try to speak more slowly and when you need to pause to think, just stay quiet or redirect the conversation momentarily if possible.
Choosing What to Say
- Look for more information. When you’re having a conversation or you’re in a meeting and you want to sound more intelligent, ask questions. Seems counter intuitive, right? When you ask the right kind of questions in the right way, however, it actually shows that you’re thinking about the situation and that you’re thinking in a smart way. Think of questions that show you’re looking for long-term goals or the reasoning behind actions. Think of questions that show you’re trying to gain a deeper understanding of complex systems. These are the sorts of questions that make you sound intelligent.
- Example questions include: “Are we open to doing this more efficiently?”, “What do you think the root cause of the conflict really is?”, and "What did this failure teach us and what can we take away for next time?”
- Use detail when you talk. When you talk about subjects, use details. How did something happen? When? Who did it? Why? This shows that you understand more than just the surface presentation of the situation.
- For example, don't say "The meeting didn't go well." Say instead, "The meeting was unproductive. We brought what we had to the table but they were unwilling to deal. I suspect they think our offer isn't in earnest. Let's see what we can do to elaborate on our position."
- State your reasoning. When you tell someone your opinion don't just tell them the conclusion. Show them how you came to that understanding. Smart people have reasons for thinking what they do, and they'll usually tell you about it. If you don't have enough logic behind your opinion to talk to someone about it, that's also informative for you; it tells you that you need to go back and think some more about the situation.
- For example, don't say: "I don't like Guardians of the Galaxy." Instead say something like, "I felt like Guardians of the Galaxy tried too hard to be funny. The jokes occurred too often, making the pacing feel strange. It was like watching a stand up act, not an action movie."
- Find solutions for problems. Smart people love to fix problems. Problems are puzzles and their brain naturally seeks out the stimulus. If you see something in your life or in someone else's life that is causing issues, stop and try to find a solution instead of just ignoring the problem. This shows people that you're a thinker.
- For example, when someone says "I don't like my job", don't just commiserate with them. Say something like, "What don't you like about it? What is the most crucial thing that you would change? How can you change it? What would need to happen?"
- Articulate concepts simply. Anyone can learn a bunch of complex vocabulary and then spout off a sentence that they don't really understand. Technical language is good at covering up when someone really doesn't know what they're talking about. A really smart person, someone who really understands a situation, can talk about it in simple ways that even a child could understand. Don't hide behind complex language: explain things as simply as possible if you want to show how much you really understand something.
- Bad example of how the internet works (from Wikipedia): "The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link several billion devices worldwide."
- Good example of how the internet works: "The information you see on your computer is sent in little packets, like a letter. It's also sent with an explanation of where it's going, where it came from, and how the pieces of information should be put back together. This information is then sent through a series of relays, just like how real letters are sent, until it gets to its destination."
- Build your vocabulary. We’re not saying that you should use words like “abstemious”; using a lot of words that are very complex or unusual will make it clear that you’re putting on airs. Instead, talk like how we’re talking in this article. Build your vocabulary so that you are using common but high level words. These are the kind of words that you would be common to encounter in college, as opposed to high school. Having this kind of vocabulary (and being sure to use all the words correctly) will make you sound far more intelligent.
- Good words to learn include: exacerbate, anathema, fastidious, efficient, idiosyncratic, and elaborate.
- You can build your vocabulary through reading. Read books of higher and higher reading levels. Write down the words you don’t know and look them up. Memorize them as you go and you’ll have a richer vocabulary before you know it.
- Research your areas of interest. You’re going to encounter very few people who know everything there is to know about every subject matter. When you meet someone who seems very intelligent, it’s usually because they know a lot about one particular area. You can do that too! Everyone gets excited about something. You’ll have an easier time becoming an expert in something you really enjoy. Do a lot of research on a subject that you care about and you’ll learn enough that when you’re talking about your passion, you’ll sound like a genius.
- For example, let’s say that you’re really into video games. You could start learning about the craft, about what makes a game really good. Did you know there’s a lot of theory and planning that go into a good battle or a good story? You can learn about it by reading game developer blogs, in several online communities, and through online shows on Youtube like Extra Credits’ Design Club.
- Keep an eye on current events. Intelligent people pay attention to what’s happening in the world. They might stick to the developments in their specific area of interest, but they definitely pay attention. Of course, they don’t just listen to the reports that confirm what they already know about a subject. Smart people look for different viewpoints so that they understand an issue from all sides. When you follow current events, you’ll be able to talk about them in conversation, which will make you sound more intelligent.
- You can follow current events by reading the newspaper. If you don’t get a newspaper, you can find many sources of news online. The BBC is a great source of quality news at a price everyone can afford: free. Wikipedia will also have some current event coverage.
- Don't neglect your writing either. Sounding intelligent is more than just about how you talk. You also have to pay attention to how you write. If you’re 'writing lIk DIS', then you’re not going to leave a very good impression on the people that read your text. Even if you’re really very intelligent and what the text actually says is quite smart, you’ll still come across as dumb. Write in full sentences with correct grammar and spelling as much as you possibly can.
- Example of a bad paragraph: "Money is obviously important BUT if you chasing that #$%^ hoping it will solve all ur problems..you gonna be chasing that for the rest of ur life lol..so what's really important then? "
- Example of the same sentences edited to sound more intelligent: "Money is obviously important. However, if you spend your whole life chasing it and thinking that it will solve all your problems, you'll end up wasting your life. What's more important: living your life or having the money?"
- You can use online text editors, like Google Docs and Hemingway, to help get your writing looking as professional and intelligent as possible. Both programs are free.
Mastering the Conversation
- Don't be afraid of being quiet. You might think that staying silent will make you look stupid but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t feel like you need to state a fact every few minutes or drive the conversation in order to look smart. Saying something just for the sake of saying something can easily lead you to say something that is wrong or even might sound stupid. Instead, if you don’t know anything about the conversation or topic and even if you don’t have anything significant to add, just stay quiet.
- Staying quiet makes it look like you’re thinking about the situation and thinking a situation through is a clear sign of intelligence. By saying nothing, you’ll actually be making yourself sound more intelligent.
- Avoid false indicators of intelligence. We associate some things with sounding intelligent but people that are actually smart will know what you’re doing if you try to fake it. They’ll also know when these indicators of intelligence aren’t actually an indication of intelligence at all. Focus on just being yourself instead of creating an act to make you sound smarter.
- The best example of this is with accents. You might think that having a posh London accent makes you sound smarter, but accents are hard to fake. You’ll be caught and you’re more likely to look foolish than intelligent.
- Have a real conversation. Have you ever sat down and listened to a really dumb conversation? Think about how the conversation actually went. Most of the time, you’ll notice one common theme: the conversation never actually goes anywhere. People will talk and argue with each other just so that they have something to say. This is normal (people want to feel heard) but when you haven’t got very much going on upstairs, you’ll be more likely to have more of a two-sided monologue than a conversation. Conversations should be an equal exchange that follows a path until it gets somewhere, not just you talking about nothing to someone who is also talking about nothing.
- Act confident. Finally, act confident when you talk. If you’re really good at projecting confidence, people are much more likely to believe just about anything you say (even if you’re wrong). You can make yourself sound more intelligent, if nothing else, by just making everything you do say sound positive and confident.
- You can make yourself sound more confident by speaking up when you have an opinion or something to contribute, by looking people in the eye, speaking firmly and clearly, and speaking at a normal pace.
- People talk higher, faster, and quieter when they’re nervous. Avoid this and you’ll go a long way towards sounding more confident.
- Another giveaway is making a statement sound like a question. It’s “I am confident.” not “I am confident?”, right? You can do it!
- Think twice before you speak, because there are chances that you speak irrelevant and something stupid.
- Try to be as involved in your own community as possible. Not only will you help others, but the more well known you are, and the more people who think you are smart, the more your self-confidence will increase.
- Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut (when you are tired, drunk, stoned, upset, etc). When you're in any of these states, some of the things that come out of your mouth may be laughed at or otherwise used against you for months or years afterward.
- When talking over the Internet, open up a program like Microsoft Word to check your spelling. Alternatively, if you're still unsure of the spelling, type it into a search engine like Google. You can also Look up a Definition Online.
- Sarcasm is intelligent if used correctly.
- Ask questions about what other people say. People love when others are interested in what they have to say and will appreciate you asking. Not any question will do though. When people make statements, ask them what those statements mean, what the consequences of them are, what the competing views are, etc. Asking the right questions is one of the most essential traits of a smart person; so, practice asking questions, and notice when people perk up at the questions you ask. When this happens, you've asked a good question--remember this kind of question and keep it in your conversational toolkit.
- Read everything you can find, think a lot, and pay attention in school. Then you can be intelligent and not just sound intelligent. Be responsible and take notes if you are in school. Ask good doubts to your teachers. It gives an impression that you are intelligent.
- If you aren't skilled at using idioms (hit the jackpot, the 411, etc.), then either learn them or avoid them.
- Something that might impress teachers or adults is knowledge about politics. Try to make time to watch the news or if you think that is too boring, try to watch 'Democracy Now!', 'The Colbert Report' or 'Mad Money'.
- Work on your body language. Having charismatic body language is the most important criterion to being persuasive. Develop good facial expressions, a nice posture, and a sober tone of voice. Always speak in a calm voice even if someone enrages or annoys you.
- However, remember when not to side with a particular argument. When an argument is debunked, anyone supporting it becomes wrong. For example, when someone says, "I told you the Coriolis Effect does not work in toilets", and you never said you agreed with that hypothesis, simply ask "Did I say it did?". Make sure it's not in a defensive tone, but more of a surprised tone that you would ever have thought such bogus.
- Read a dictionary and thesaurus in your free time. Intelligent people have a tendency to have an interest in these areas, and expanding your vocabulary will help you associate with intelligent people.
- Read the well-spoken thesaurus by Tom Heehler.
- If used correctly, silence is one of the most important weapons of being and acting intelligent.
- Gauge your tone very carefully. Rejection is often a by-product of being considered intelligent. Make yourself intelligent in a sympathetic, altruistic fashion.
- Try not to sound pretentious, this is a bad quality - if it is indeed a 'quality' - in anyone.
- Don't use an excess of long words. You could confuse and irritate the people around you who, if not used to hearing you talk in this manner, could think you're just being pretentious.
- Don't use multiple question marks or multiple exclamation points.
- Never use Internet terms or abbreviations if you're not using the Internet! For example, "OMG", "LOL", "LMAO", and so on. When you're actually speaking to a person, it's really not that hard to produce those extra syllables. (Not to mention you can, believe it or not, actually laugh.)
- Sound out a Word You Don't Know
- Act Smart
- Make Yourself Smarter
- Appear Intelligent
- Be Clever
- Be Smart