The Case for Cracking a Smile

 In Presence
woman and man holding pictures with big smile. concept photo over dark background

Last week I observed a wonderfully talented speaker. He was expressive, had an interesting voice, and used perfect pacing. However, there was something missing until…he smiled. It was a big, genuine smile that caused crow’s feet to blossom around his eyes (a Guy Kawasaki must!) and added new sparkle to his voice. And it put us all at ease. I could see that he suddenly relaxed, too.

What is it about smiles? In recent years, there’ve been a lot of books and articles on happiness. Research has shown that a smile will put the smiler at ease and increase their confidence, while at the same time making them appear more attractive and more competent to others. Woo hoo! Seems like a no-brainer. Well, actually it’s a brain trainer. You see, scientists have shown that emotions are accompanied by changes in the body, from elevation in the heart rate to muscle movement, such as smiling, but recently discovered that it works the other way, too – your brain pays attention to what your body is doing, affecting your emotions, giving you a more positive outlook in response to that smile. In other words, a smile is good for your health and well-being, as well as your voice and presence. And smiles are contagious. Want your audience to smile and nod agreement? You start!

Happy little girl wearing big sunglasses with hands up enjoying sun in the field

This week, a popular speaker and teacher passed away. That was Wayne Dyer. His primary teaching was, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  When applied to smiling, the act of smiling can change the way you look at things, while changing the way you think about speaking and changing the perception others have of you. Even a fake smile starts the process. Give it a try.

For more on this topic please see my posts

And this research article about electromyographic (EMG) reactions in emotion-relevant facial muscles:

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