I entered the office building in anticipation of meeting a prospect. The first person I saw was the receptionist. Usually, a receptionist will say, "May I help you?" But this receptionist stood out. She did something that made her immediately attractive and memorable. Without saying a word, she conveyed, "Welcome, I'm happy to see you". She did this with a smile. No, not an ordinary quick flash of the teeth.She was beaming. It was a genuine, happy smile. She smiled with her mouth and her eyes. It was so disarming that I complimented her on her welcoming gesture. Her facial expression communicated that she liked her job and that she liked people. This receptionist didn't know she was giving a presentation that morning. We think of public speaking as speaking words. But non-verbal communication is more than half the message. A public speaker can have the best written speech but if the delivery doesn't match the content, there is a disconnect. The top public speakers align the body, voice, and words. And that begins with a smile.
A smile is the quickest way to relax your audience and to calm your nerves. Some studies say it takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile. So it takes less effort to smile. If the fear of public speaking causes you to freeze up, you can choose to smile anyway. The brain releases endorphins when you smile, making you feel good. Nothing says "confidence" better than a smile. Psychology studies have proven the power of a smile. In one experiment they asked participants to hold a pencil between their teeth which forced them to smile. The participants reported feeling happier.even though it was a forced smile. (I tried it. It works).
So don't be a facial monotone. The next time you approach the public speaking platform, step up and smile!