A smile is such a simple thing to do for effective public speaking. And a smile is so powerful when public speaking.
Charles Garfield used to coach the Russian Olympic weight-lifting team. He noticed that when the team members had lifted as much as they could, to the point of exhaustion, they would invariably grimace and frown and screw up their faces at the painful effort. In an experiment, he encouraged the weight lifters to smile when they got to that point of exhaustion. This simple change and seemingly minor difference resulted in the weight lifters being able to add another 2-3 more repetitions to their performance. The smile release endorphins and serotonin, powerful biochemicals that stimulate the body.
The smile and the subsequent release of these chemicals also applies to public speaking and presentations. When you grimace, frown or feel flat while doing it, you are sending your brain the message, “This is hard, I am tired, I don’t want to be here. I should stop.” The brain then responds by sending stress chemicals such as cortisol into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes.
Conversely, when you smile, your brain gets the message. It releases good chemicals including serotonin and endorphins, and your brain says “It’s not so bad after all. I can do this.” As you smile your energy increases and so does your confidence and your presence.
Amy Cuddy in her book “Presence” talks about faking it until you become it. Presence when public speaking is about good physiology, breathing low, standing up straight and smiling. The smile helps you to look confident and look in control, even if you are feeling a little nervous or uncertain.
There you are. The simple smile is a powerful tool to use whenever public speaking, training, presenting and attending job interviews.
If you want to develop your communication and effective public speaking skills, we are running a series of workshops in Darwin form the 22 to 23 of October: Assertive Communication Skills Workshop on 22 October, Effective Communication Skills on 22 October, Difficult Conversations on 23 October and Thinking and Speaking Off the Cuff on 23 October.