It has been well documented in research that only 7 percent of the impact of our communication comes from what we say. The other 93 percent comes from the way we look and sound when we say it. For a presenter, this means that delivery skills are crucial. I have captured the seven delivery skills that are key to being a dynamic speaker in the acronym S.P.E.A.K.E.R.:
Smile, Posture, Eye Communication, Appearance, Kinesics, Expressive Vocals, Resting Places for Your Hands
In this article, I’m going to talk about “Smile.” When you’re speaking, what is the audience looking at? Unless you’ve got something really distracting going on with your clothing or your legs or arms, your face is the focal point. What are you doing with it? You’ve undoubtedly seen speakers who look like they have a death mask on. Their faces are frozen, with no expression. Doesn’t look like they’re happy to be there, does it? As an audience member, just how engaged and connected to such speakers do you feel? Given that many of us, when we’re nervous, tend to get dead serious and freeze up, we need to pay attention to our facials.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old expression, “It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.” Well, I don’t believe it. Think about it. A frown has gravity working on its side. A smile requires lifting some muscles. It’s more conscious work. If you’re not smiling, then it doesn’t matter if you’re not frowning. Not smiling translates into a negative expression, whether unhappy, bored, or mad. So work at that smile.
Now, if you have a serious topic, or bad news to deliver, I’m not suggesting that that you need to grin like the Cheshire cat. But it’s important for your facials to be expressive. If you have that death mask expression while you’re announcing layoffs, it’ll look like you don’t care. You can show in your face that you’re unhappy, that you feel compassion for those laid off. And if your face is frozen, it’ll reflect in your vocals and you’ll sound bored and flat. If you’re speaking of something that makes you angry–or concerned or confused–let your face show it. You really have a lot of muscles in your face, so use them.
Smiling is a warm, interpersonal skill. What happens when you smile at someone? They smile back. So it will go a long ways towards helping you get comfortable and build your confidence when you smile at your audience and they give you warm facial feedback in return. Remind yourself to smile. Draw a happy face on your notes. Tell yourself that you want to let the audience know you’re pleased to be there. Think to yourself, “I’m happy to be here; I’m happy to share this information with my audience.” Then tell your face!