Coming across as intelligent is one of our main goals every time we open our mouths to speak. When we’re in a meeting or job interview, that’s almost all we care about. Even when with our friends or family, we want them to think of us as being smart.
If being perceived as smart & competent is crucial to you (and it should be if you want to achieve success), make sure you’re doing it right.
Excellent communication skills are on the description of nearly every job post. And according to the Harvard Business Review, you always come across smarter if you use your voice instead of writing.
Who would’ve thought that? We most often think of ourselves as more formal and coming across as more intelligent when we write than when we speak!
How to Sound Smart
- Use simple terminology. Stop thinking the use of big words will make you appear smart. Instead, it makes you look insecure in your intelligence.
- Don’t over-articulate. Connect the words within phrases together.
- Relax & Breathe. Being relaxed always improves your performance; exhale your voice right out of your lungs. Speech is air molecules that vibrate.
- Use a varied intonation pattern. Every word has a different value, like chess pieces.
What does “excellent communication skills” mean? Is it all about perfect pronunciation? “Ooh! I love how he pops all of his ‘t’s! That sounds nice!” Is it about using a string of 5-dollar words? “That’ll surely make me sound smart!”
No. And no. Pronunciation and pretentious words will not make you a better communicator.
To appear clever, you must be crystal clear, persuasive, authoritative, credible & warm. Seeming smart is about having relationships that are easy to initiate, easy to maintain, and where both parties get what they need. It’s about making people understand you quickly and thoroughly and avoiding misunderstandings. You can do all of this with your communication skills.
You Can Easily Sound Smart
You can do this by using a voice that gets people to feel relaxed and open (super easy to do), it’s about using a charming style that instantly relaxes people and gets them to believe you.
Then you have to work on being more concise and using persuasive speech, doing away with little habits that undermine you. If you record yourself (do it–it can only help you) describing what you do or talking about a project, you may find that the first five words are superfluous “Um, well, you see…” or the like.
Take out the “I think”s and other phrases/filler words (like “um”s & “a”s) that make you sound insecure and for your own sake stop going up at the end!
3 Steps to Sounding Smart
Follow these three steps and you’ll be sounding like a smarty pants in no time.
The first thing you need to do to achieve the above skills is to RELAX. I hope it doesn’t sound dorky, but being relaxed is the absolute foundation for having fantastic communication skills. I’m not saying you’re a tense person; I’m saying that you continue to strive for higher and more significant life positions. You find yourself in anxiety-ridden situations like giving presentations or making sales to high-level execs or going on job interviews.
The next thing you need to do is BREATHE. Don’t use shallow breathing where your chest and shoulders move (check yourself in the mirror.) Instead, use abdominal breathing where your stomach goes out when you breathe in and in when you breathe out. Abdominal breathing gives you a fuller voice and is more resonant than the one you are using now.
The voice you hear on the recorder is how you indeed sound to other people. Only you can hear the voice that you hear in your head. It’s made fuller and more resonant by the bone conduction of sound. Letting your voice sound full and resonant makes you sound confident, authoritative, and highly intelligent. There’s no getting around it.
Vary Your Intonation
Thirdly, you need to use a varied intonation pattern. Most people are out there, thinking each word is as important as the ones next to it. So they end up articulating each letter that they see. It doesn’t work that way in English. You must only emphasize the essential words in a sentence. The ones that give your listener the most information. Using this type of varied intonation pattern is how you become a persuasive speaker who sounds ridiculously smart.