That was the sound of the “Reader’s Digest” hitting my desk Tuesday morning.

The magazine founded in 1922 is still around with a circulation of over 3 million.

I used to read the magazine when I was younger.

I vividly recall “Laughter is the best medicine” segments printed throughout the issue.

Paging through the November 2019 issue, there it was on page 54.

“What kind of tan did Pilgrims get at the beach? A puritan.”

The “Reader’s Digest” was plopped on my desk by Patty O’Malley. On page 70 the Cedar House in Abilene was named Kansas’ “Nicest Places in America.”

A short article explained how O’Malley opened her home to women needing somewhere to stay for a while after rehab and how she founded Cedar House.

What caught my eye was the article “How to Sound Smarter.”

Knowing that I was not smarter than a fifth grader long before Jeff Foxworthy told people to look into the camera and say, “I am not smarter than a fifth grader,” the article caught my interest.

The article starts by Kevin Adkins admitting that to impress people he would use big words.

I dislike big words, at least those that make me open my online dictionary to see which one of the definitions best fits the sentence.

I prefer “same distance” to “equidistant.” But that is just me.

Authors Lisa Fields and Brandon Specktor offered six pointers on sounding smarter.

I could relate.

1. Plan ahead.

Best advice I ever gave to a cub reporter when doing an interview: “Always write down five to six questions so if the interview stalls, you have something to fall back on.”

Advice which I don’t adhere to, except my first interview with fellow journalist and former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater.

I conducted an interview with Kan. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran during the 2016 presidential Republican primary when I didn’t even ask a question.

“Donald Trump.”

That was all that came out of my mouth. Turned into a very interesting story.

2. Make eye contact.

In college my psych class was in an “L” shaped room in the old football stadium at K-State. Our professor would pace back and forth from one side of the L to the other during his lecture.

One day the professor was late for class.

Wrong thing to happen among a group of psychology students.

We decided one half of the room would sit up straight, pay attention, ask questions, thus make eye contact.

My half of the class gave the appearance of being tired, slumped over and didn’t pay attention.

By the end of the class, the professor had stopped addressing my side of the L and was giving his full attention to the side paying attention.

The joke was on him.

3. Strike a power pose.

Body language is very important in my business.

I often stand with my hands on my hips or lean against my desk showing great body language while I am talking on the cell phone.

Works every time.

4. Eliminate pauses.

Or, in my case that would be eliminate commas, semicolons, colons and overused dashes and run on sentences that often confuse readers and cause English teachers to get out the red pen and mark up the newspaper like they did when they were grading my papers in English class in high school.

5. Restate other people’s smart points.

Never been afraid to steal someone else’s ideas without plagiarizing, of course.

6. Tell some jokes.

It worked for “Reader’s Digest” for close to 100 years.

Contact Tim Horan at

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