Do you feel that you know your stuff in the office, but don’t always get the respect you deserve? Maybe it’s because you don’t sound like you know what you’re doing.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you open your mouth in the workplace.

Avoid verbal tics

Peppering your speech with verbal tics such as “um,” “like,” and “you know” won’t help you sound smarter.  In fact, adding these unnecessary tics can make even the most famous quotes sound less intelligent:

To be or, um, not to be
Four score and, like, seven years ago
One small step for, you know, man

If you think you might have this problem, tape one of your conversations or ask a significant other or close friend if he or she has noticed any verbal tics.

Know your grammar rules

Between you and I, do you feel badly about the amount of grammar rules you need to remember? The answer should be yes if you failed to notice the three grammatical errors in the previous sentence (“between you and I” instead of “between you and me”, “feel badly” instead of “feel bad” and using “amount” instead of “number.” It’s been many years since most of us were taught the rules of grammar, so it could be time to check out a grammar guide.  Could poor use of grammar make your reputation literally go up in smoke?  (No, but it could figuratively make your reputation go up in smoke.)

Increase your vocabulary by reading good books and articles

How often do you read something and feel the need to look up a word the author has used?  Finding more challenging things to read can make you sound smarter both by improving your vocabulary and giving you something intelligent to talk about. The same is true for good movies and TV shows.

Be up-to-date on current events

Not knowing what’s going on in the news can make you sound less intelligent, particularly if everyone else in your office is talking about a particular topic.  You can stay informed by signing up for email news summaries from news websites or listening to such summaries through smartphone apps.

Watch less trash TV and read less gossip

Or at least don’t talk about it all the time. You can be a well-read news junkie, but if all you talk about are the latest exploits of the Kardashians, people are not going to think of you as the office brain. You don’t have to give up your guilty pleasures, particularly since there are times when they may be the main topic of conversation at the water cooler, but you at least want your colleagues to know that your interests go beyond the latest D-list celebrity news.