When was the last time you thought about your facial expressions? You probably have control over the words you speak, do you have control over what you say with your facial expressions?
We’ve all seen photos of ourselves when we are relaxed – and not knowing we are photographed. Even though we had a great time at an event, we look sad in the photo. Or stressed. Or simply weird.
It just goes to show you that most of us aren’t aware of what we are saying with our facial expressions much of the time. This isn’t too big of a deal for us in real life, but what about when we are giving a speech?
A good public speaker realizes that appropriate facial expressions are an important part of effective communication. When you speak, your face tells more clearly than any words you articulate about your attitudes, feelings and emotions.
Here are some facial formulas for maximum expression during your next public speaking.
Smiling doesn’t make you look weak — it makes you look approachable. If you’re giving a speech or a presentation where you’re trying to make people comfortable, start out with a smile. It will show your audience that you’re happy to be there, and confident in the material that you’re about to deliver. Although smiling is – of course – an important expression when we are presenting, trying to maintain a constant tooth-show will make you look more like a leering sociopath than a happy, enthusiastic public speaker. Genuine smiles travel all the way up to your eyes.
Some facial expressions can irritate. One-sided lifting of the corners of the mouth can be interpreted as a sign of superiority and the speaker is then accused of arrogance or cynicism.
A permanent smile seems artificial, complacent, or even debilitating. If you smile without a break, you make your counterpart suspicious.
Someone who presses their teeth vigorously against each other may look angry and aggressive or at least cramped.
Do not touch your nose, mouth or chin during your speech. This is a classic sign of insecurity and is quickly perceived as negative by your audience.
As your audience grows, your facial expressions should become more pronounced. If the audience in the last row is not able to read your face, your facial expression will be perceived as neutral expression and thus as your lack of interest.
Not sure what your face is doing when you’re speaking? Try practicing in front of a mirror. To better understand what your facial expressions are like, and how they convey messages, take some time to make faces in front of a mirror. It may seem a little silly to you at first, but it will help you understand how your facial muscles feel when you are expressing certain emotions. Try out the 7 main emotions that are expressed through facial expressions: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Contempt, Surprise, Fear, and Disgust. Understanding your personal facial expressions will help you to communicate more effectively both one-on-one and in public speaking settings. You have to see what your face is doing in order to make necessary changes. All the energy and emotion in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t express it.
Facial expressions create dynamism. They give the impression that you stand behind your ideas and believe in them. Recent research shows that when you use your face, specifically the little lines around your eyes (known as Duchenne markers) you’re perceived as conveying more intense and sincere emotions.
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