The way you speak influences what other people think of you. So, here’s how to sound smarter! These tips come from Susan Berkley, author of Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice:

  • The first “ding” against you: speaking too softly or in a higher pitch. Both of those things happen when we’re feeling insecure or nervous. So, tap into your natural volume control by humming before an important phone call or presentation. Try counting to 5, and hum between the numbers, like “One, hmmmmm, two, hmmmmm. ” It’ll get you in the rhythm of speaking normally.
  • Then, mispronouncing words can hurt your image. For example, saying “supposably” instead of “supposedly”, or “exscape” instead of “escape.” So, practice proper pronunciation. Use the audio feature on an online dictionary, like Merriam-Webster Online at
  • Don’t talk fast, and don’t end statements on an “up” note, so they sound like questions. It makes you sound unsure of yourself. Instead, emulate someone who makes a living with their voice. For example, tape your favorite newscaster, then mimic their rhythms, pace, and intonations.    
  • Eliminate lip smacks, and other verbal “fillers,” such as “um” and “like”. Listen to a tape recording of your voice to see how many fillers you normally use. Then, practice blemish-free speech by pausing, or taking a breath in place of empty utterances.