How To Pretend You Know What You’re Talking About (When You Blatantly Don’t)

Psst! You know when your friends start talking about things you’ve no idea about? Well, we’ve no idea either. So we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to make you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

1. Look smart

Nerdy Man With Glasses

Having a beard and glass suggests sophistication, when it’s actually the result of weak vision and couldn’t be bothered shaving. It’s no coincidence lecturers wear V-neck jumpers and trench coats, as it gives the a sophisticated look. You’re looking for the same thing, except in this case you want to create the illusion of sophistication. So, remove those contacts, grow a philosophers beard, and everyone will be none the wiser. You won’t be any wiser either, but we won’t tell anybody.

2. Speak confidently

Morgan Freeman
Everett Collection /

Ever wonder why Morgan Freeman was asked to play God twice? It’s in his voice: he speaks slowly but confidently, pronouncing every word properly in a way that commands authority. Looking confused will give the game away. Your body language should be open and engaging. Move your hands, give eye contact, and engage with what they’re saying.

3. Wikipedia it

Wikipedia Research
Twin Design /

It’s a common expression that ‘the best way to sound like you know what you are talking about, is to know what you are talking about’. Well, the second best way is to give it a quick search on Google. Watch the news for 2 minutes, get someone’s opinion, and recycle that opinion straight from the horse’s mouth. Comedians like Jon Stewart and John Oliver take complicated news and present it in this hilarious way.

4. Say “I think it’s a bit more complicated than that”

Businessmen in Conversation

If the person you are arguing with makes a point about something, say that you find the situation to be more complicated. Your friend declares, “Country A should stop bombing Country B”, whereas you think, “it’s a bit more complicated than that”. You agree with them, but think that there are also “deeper geo-political and socio-economic factors” at play. This suggests you’ve done some deep research, when it’s actually quite opposite and what he said in the first place is far too complicated. Chances are they’ll agree with you and hopefully won’t call you up on your BS.

5. Change the subject

Businessmen Talking

Chances are, there might be a topic remotely related that you feel comfortable talking about. Do this subtly. Instead of changing the topic, go down a different tangent. Highlight a word in the conversation and use that to deflect the conversation. If your friend is talking about legalising drugs, say ‘speaking of the drugs trade, did you see Breaking Bad last night?’ Now we’re back to familiar territory, without making you looking like a dumb ass.

6. Expand their opinion

Business Meeting

So, they’re waiting for your response. And there’s a minefield of stupid sentences stretching across your brain. Getting you out of unscathed involves agreeing with them and causing less conflict. But instead of nodding along, repackage what they just said to give the impression you know exactly what they said. Repackaging involves changing one or two words in the sentence followed by ‘exactly’ or ‘I know what you mean’. When you’re dealing with someone with who talks about such smug topics, they’re looking for someone to massage their ego, so massage away.

7. Use smart sounding words

Man Reading Dictionary

‘Literally’ used to be one of these, until people literally used it too much. Literally! We need new words you can leisurely use to make you seem smart. Might I suggest words like ‘paradoxically’ or ‘exacerbate’? A paradox is when something contradictory, and when you use it in conversation people rarely check whether what you’re saying is actually a paradox. Exacerbate means to make things worse.

For example, I think eating more cheese will exacerbate my chances of being an Olympic Gold medallist. Anytime the Government get too controlling, it’s an ‘Orwellian’ nightmare. George Orwell’s 1984 is a book everyone’s claim to have read, and you should be no exception. Don’t use these words too often though, as you’ll ruin it for the rest of us! Literally!

8. Quote people

The Dalai Lama
vipflash /

The Dalai Lama once stated: “Quoting people can make you sound smarter”. OK, The Dalai Lama didn’t really say that, but if you quoted The Dalai Lama you sound more intellectual, right? No trip to the library needed here, most people who quote Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and Dorothy Parker didn’t even read their books. They heard someone saying that quote, and they are just repeating it ad nauseam. Have a few quotes lined up you found online, and confidently shoehorn them into as many arguments as you can. Or as Oscar Wilde once said, “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars!”