Today’s guest blogger is Stuart Fedderson, public speaking coach based in Chapel Hill, NC. His topic, something near and dear to me – the importance of a genuine, engaging smile. In your headshot of course, but even moreso in your professional life. Read more from Stuart below!
The Super Power of a Smile – Stuart Fedderson
I love to smile! If you have been to any of my seminars, you know that smiling is a big part of who I am.
You all probably have one of those old elementary school photos where there is that one goofy kid in the group with the biggest, cheesiest, most ridiculous smile ever. Well… that was me and I am not afraid to admit that. However, what most of us cannot see when looking at that goofy kid is the internal battle that may have been going on inside. For me it wasn’t necessarily a mask, but more of a stress reliever for my anxious moments. When my anxiety was elevated, a smile was my first go-to remedy.
Have you ever considered what a the super powers of a smile can do for you in your life, speeches, and presentations? Lets explore it shall we?
Super Stress Reliever
According to a very interesting study performed by the University of Kansas, smiling can actually reduce stress and help us feel better. In the study, students were placed in stressful situations and then monitored as the stressful situation commenced. The results were startling. As a whole, the smilers had lower heart rates and showed less signs of stress while recovering from stressful tasks than those who had shown no smiles.
Some think that this is because it reduces levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. In spite of these cool findings, this connection between mental states and expressions is still uncharted territory to the scientific community. What does this mean? Maybe feeling good could sometime be a result of smiling, not the other way around.
Unless you are giving a presentation with a more somber and quiet tone that requires a more solemn expression, try smiling a little more the next time you present. Your overall stress and anxiety will decrease as you present and the audience will become more engaged.
In my experience, when someone smiles, others view him or her as being attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. Smiling makes people look and (according to the study above) feel better as well. This often naturally creates the same feelings in others. Think for a minute about some of your favorite public speakers or the most engaging TED Talks you have seen. How often did this person smile? Did they bring humor into their presentation? Did you find yourself smiling along with them? Chances are the more that speaker smiled, the more you smiled which in turn led to you to be more engaged in the message.
I often tell my clients who struggle with this to think about it from the perspective of the audience or the social group you are spending time with. More often than not, your audience feels what you feel so feel what you want your audience to feel.
If you are giving a speech and you are not smiling every now and again, your audience will most likely get bored. Smiling is a sign of passion and energy so smile more to create passion and energy in your listeners. Again, I do have to include that there is a time and place for this. If you topic is sad and solemn, then you want your audience to feel the sincerity and solemnity in your tone so naturally it makes sense to smile less.
People are generally bored during presentations and in most social situations. It is not that the world is a boring place; it is that few people show passion. Remember that smiling is a psychological sign of energy, passion, and enthusiasm. If you want a sure fire way to stand out during a presentation, at a party, at work, or in any social situation… smile more, frown less.
Let’s take work for example. Sonya Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California did some very telling research. According to the study, benefits of smiling include “higher income and superior work outcomes.” They found that people who are at the top of organizations smiled significantly more as they moved up the corporate ladder. The results showed that smiling led to a higher chance of career growth and promotion. This is mainly because smiling makes you appear more credible, courteous, and even competent in life and in the workplace.
You now know that a smile can be the super power you never knew you had! Don’t be afraid to use that super power to get ahead not only in your presentations, but in your social life as well.
Learn more about Stuart and his Fedderson Formula at www.feddersonpublicspeaking.com.