So often beginning public speakers are exceedingly serious in their approach to public speaking – smiling isn’t part of their delivery. They may fear public speaking, be anxious speaking, or simply not learned one of the many techniques to loosen up before speaking. Author of “Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act” Ron Gutman summarized the many benefits of smiling:
“Lots of smiling can actually make you healthier. Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine; increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphin; and reduce overall blood pressure. –Ron Gutman”
Science of Smiling & Public Speaking
We know from the science that smiling to an audience activates mirror neurons and helps to bring a smile to the face of our audience. Remember smiles are wildly contagious. This, by any measure, is a win-win for you and your speaking audience. This research is pretty clear: Smiling changes your state of mind even if you are in another not so positive state such as anxiety or fear. So why not take a small step in your speaking practice and share a smile. Your audience will love you for it and you will feel the positive difference. Embrace the positive and be a better speaker – smile!
Presence is vital to successful speaking and leadership. My definition differs from the one you might assume. Presence in this case means a few things:
- Projection of ease, poise and self-assured confidence.
- State of being fully vested in the moment and deliver at your very best.
Smiling is part of this non-verbal message to our audience that we are projecting a powerful and positive presence. Smiling sends a positive cue to our audience, communicates our openness, puts our audience in a positive state of mind. We have explored the power of smiling in several of our previous blog posts on charismatic speaking & leadership and its implication in resting face (our resting facial expressions). What are your thoughts on smiling? Does it help you as a speaker and a leader?