How to Make a Lie Sound Convincing

Two Parts:Preparing to LieBeing Convincing

Telling the truth is usually a much better option than lying, but sometimes you have no choice but to tell a lie. In some cases, you might need to tell a white lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings or to keep someone in the dark about a surprise you are planning. If you absolutely must tell a lie, keep in mind that it can be hard work to make it sound convincing. You will need to give careful thought to the details of your lie, be consistent, and avoid body language that might give you away.

Part 1
Preparing to Lie

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    Think about why you need to lie. Everyone lies once in a while, but take a minute to consider whether lying is really worth it in this case. Lying takes a lot more mental capacity than telling the truth, and you might get in trouble if you get caught.
    • You might have a good reason for lying, such as trying to keep a friend in the dark about a surprise party. If this is the case, try not to feel bad about it because you're actually doing something nice!
    • Never tell a lie for no reason at all. Lying just for fun or just to see if you can get away with it is sure to get you into trouble eventually.
    • If you're telling a selfish lie or a lie that might hurt other people, consider taking the high road and telling the truth.
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    Plan out the details of your story. Your lie will be much more convincing if you take the time to think about what you will say and add in meaningful details. Your story should be detailed enough to come across as genuine, but not so detailed that it seems constructed.[1]
    • The amount of detail in your lie should be similar to the amount of detail you would offer if you were telling the truth. If you are known for chatting on forever about everything, it will probably seem suspicious if your lie is short and to the point. Conversely, if you are typically not very talkative, you might raise some red flags if your story is overly embellished.
    • Even if the basis of your lie is perfectly believable, adding in details that seem far-fetched might give you away, so keep it grounded. For example, telling your friend that you stood him up because your grandma wasn't feeling well and you had to take her to a doctor's appointment is more believable than telling him that you stood him up because your grandma was kidnapped and you had to rescue her. In both cases, the gist is that you had to help your grandma, but the details are very different.
    • You will have to remember all your details, so don't go overboard. Write them down if you have to.
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    Start with the truth. The easiest way to lie is to simply bend the truth. This will allow you to tell a story that is mostly true, including lots of supporting details that are mostly true, with only a little bit of untruth mixed in.[2]
    • The less prepared you are, the fewer lies you should incorporate into your story. If you're completely caught off-guard in a situation and you need to lie, bend the truth as slightly as you can to avoid tripping yourself up.
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    Think about who will hear the lie. People often get caught lying because they tell different stories to different people. If these people ever compare notes, your lie will be revealed, so make sure you come up with one story that you can tell to everyone.[3]
    • Keep in mind that your story might spread, so you need to be prepared to keep telling it in the same way you did the first time if someone else asks you about it.
    • Take into account what everyone who will hear the lie already knows about you and about the situation. Be careful about including details that anyone who is even remotely likely to hear the lie will know are false. For example, don't tell a friend that you lost the bracelet you borrowed from her while swimming in the lake if you have mutual friends who know that you can't swim.
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    Rehearse your story. The more detailed your lie is, the more time you will have to spend on making sure you think of every detail and remember the whole story. Try rehearsing it aloud to yourself several times to make sure you feel confident.
    • Make sure you remember important details like names and dates. If you get these wrong your whole lie might start to fall apart.
    • Keep in mind that you don't want to sound like you're reading from a script. While it's a good idea to plan out the details of your lie, avoid planning out every single word you want to say. Your lie will be much more convincing if your speech sounds natural and unrehearsed.

Part 2
Being Convincing

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    Tell the lie at the right time. The content of your lie will generally dictate this. Think about how likely you would be to bring the topic up if it were true.
    • If your story is boring or uneventful, don't bring it up until you're asked. For example, if you plan on lying to your friend by telling her that you didn't call her back because you had spotty cell reception, you might not want to bring it up first.
    • If your story is exciting or upsetting, you should probably bring it up right away, or it might seem like you aren't as emotionally invested in the situation as you should be. If, for example, you plan to tell your friend that you didn't return her call because you had a huge fight with your mom and you were too upset to talk to anyone, tell her the next time you see her.
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    Don't look nervous. While research has shown that looking nervous does not necessarily indicate that you are lying, many people still believe that it does, so be safe and do your best to keep your calm.[4]
    • Look straight at the person you are speaking to and talk fluently.
    • Remember to keep a natural-looking smile on your face.
    • Stand still and don't shift around.
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    Act the part. Depending on what your lie is, you might need some acting classes to nail the appropriate emotions. Everyone expresses emotions differently, but try not to be unusually more or less emotional about the situation than you would be if it were true.[5]
    • If you're concerned that you won't be able to express the right emotions while lying, consider changing the lie to something less challenging.
    • Avoid getting defensive if someone asks you to explain your story. Stick to the emotions that are appropriate for your lie.
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    Recite your lie. Use vocabulary that is similar to what you would normally use, and keep the conversation flow as natural as possible.
    • Don't talk too fast or too slow.
    • If appropriate for the situation, use phrases that invite feedback so that you're not just reciting a monologue.
    • Gesture as you normally would. A lack of hand gestures can indicate that you are thinking about what you are saying.[6]
    • Be prepared to say, "I didn't notice" or "I don't remember" if someone asks you a question and you're not sure what else to say.[7]
    • Avoid conversation fillers like "um" or long gaps in the conversation. This will make it look like you're actively trying to think of what to say, which is a dead giveaway that you're lying. If you need a second to remember a specific detail, move on to something else, but keep the flow of the story as natural as possible.
    • Try not to say the same thing over and over. You'll sound too rehearsed.[8]
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    Change the subject at the right time. Don't make it seem like you want to move on to the next topic as quickly as possible. Provide sufficient details before segueing into something else to keep the conversation going.[9]
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    Back your lie up. If you have any evidence that can support your lie, even if it's very vague, it might help your case. Research has shown that people are more likely to believe statements that are accompanied by pictures, so if you can think of a way to make this work with your lie, go for it.[10]
    • Do this as naturally as possible. If you have a photo, for example, you can show it to your friend as a part of the conversation, but don't make it seem like you're showing it to her in order to prove that you're not lying.
    • Having other people back your lie up can also be helpful, as long as they know to stick to the details you've provided.
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    Have a backup plan. It's a good idea to know what you will say if you get caught lying, just in case. If you have a good enough explanation, you might be able to avoid getting into as much trouble.


  • Lying too much can get you into big trouble if you aren't careful. It can also cause you to lose friends and gain a reputation for being a liar.

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Categories: Conversation Skills