I've been thinking about this for awhile, how could a perfectly average person sound like an incredibly intelligent person with as little effort as possible? Although I am not an incredibly intelligent person myself, I have dabbled in those circles and I feel I've been able to narrow down the qualities that make people seem smart, even if they aren't actually.
Now, there is no doubt the easiest way to sound smart in a conversation is to say nothing at all. Oh, that was a good laugh. No, really, the easiest way to sound smart (before getting to the official list) is one of two things. Either
a) be one of the aforementioned incredibly intelligent people, or,
b) shut your trap and simply be a listener.
Seriously, if you keep in complete silence while taking in every word a person is saying, they'll think you're quite an intelligent and contemplative fellow (or lass). But to be perfectly honest, if you can actively listen to what people are saying and not zone out, then, chances are, you actually are a contemplative person of more than adequate intelligence. But this is all off-topic. Let's to the list!
1. Know how to pluralize words.
I'm starting with the hardest one first. This is also, from what I've noticed, a major problem that people get stuck on. Especially in a college setting, or a place where a lot of college-type people are going to be around, this is a quality that will really make you shine.
Take words that are simple to start yourself off: goose, mouse (this is a tricky one, because there is a difference in pluralization between the animal and the computer accessory), portfolio, and quality to name a few. Then get down the trick words: deer, moose, or foreign words like ninja or samurai (you never know when you'll be in a room with Asian History majors). There aren't that many, and you'll know them when you find them. But tricky words, like syllabus, octopus, appendix, or cherub are words that are constantly pluralized incorrectly. There's also a lot of words that we don't commonly use the singular forms of, such as criteria, data, dice, or phenomenon. This is the section that will be most difficult to remember, but easiest to remedy if you have any questions about them because you can always just open up a dictionary and find out.
2. Drop your safety words.
For those Californians reading, you should know what I'm talking about. Take the next week or two and try to focus on how many times you say "like," "um," or "you know," and you'll see what I'm saying. If you're actually stuck in the middle of a thought just drop in a brief pause, a space for you to gather your thoughts, and start when you know what you are trying to say. East coast citizens have a similar problem with the word "wicked." These words are used as vocal replacements of commas, parentheses, and quotation marks. English speakers have never needed to include those aspects of grammar into speech before, why are we doing it now? Like, knock it off!
3. Be familiar with history and classic literature.
This does not mean that you need to go out and read The Odyssey, Pride & Prejudice, and Dr. Zhivago, or spend years reading thick history books. Why do that when you've got perfectly good movies to watch! Hell, history has even got its own channel! Movies based on classic lit. are great because, if they're good, they'll have all the major characters and plot points of the novels, plus they're made under the auspice of entertainment. These things were filmed with the idea that audiences were supposed to enjoy them, not simply being an artist's pure expression of their tulmutuous inner self. Historical films have the same thing going for them, although I would rather recommend the History Channel instead of the movies because the time limits of cinematic epics tend to strip away even the most blatant of historical accuracies.
There are some further qualities that are up for grabs when it comes to high intelligence demeanors. The decision to be either humble or arrogrant definitely depends on your own personality, and how far you are willing to take the disguise. Fashion and appearance I leave totally to the individual. I am neither fashionable nor attractive, so I cannot vouch for those qualities.
If there are anymore elements that could be added to this list I will definitely consider them. Remember, this is not a list on how to become smart, but just how to sound smart, and it needs to be kept as simple, and do-able, as possible.
Let me know if this process works for any of you.