I want speakers to succeed. And sometimes, when I’m in an audience watching one stumble, I’ll do something to help him or her shine.
A couple of weeks ago I was part of a group that was interviewing principals for funding. Each principal had about 20 minutes to share the story of his or her school and how some bucks and community volunteer power could help. When the final principal presenting came into the room, I could feel her nervousness. I could also feel her desire. I wanted her to be the one our group selected. There was just one big ole problem. She had what I refer to as “tense face”. Her lips were tight, her jaw muscles contracted, and although she was painting a compelling story within the first 2 minutes I could see she was losing the room.
It was time for a smile smackdown. I wish I could say I did something really sneaky and slick, but I didn’t. While yes, I probably did manipulate the funding outcome for this woman did wind up getting a near unanimous vote from my group, I didn’t say a word. I just started to smile and make eye contact with her. She began to direct more and more of her pitch to me, and within a few minutes tense face was gone. And she now felt comfortable looking around the room as she had reenergized it. She was telling stories about her students with more ease and at certain moments outright abandonment. She was laughing, her hands were moving, and she was endearing herself and her school to everyone in the room.
And it all happened because of a smile.
You can use the technique of smiling, with your mouth and your eyes, whenever someone is presenting an idea and getting in his or hew own way of high impact delivery by allowing seriousness to trump playfulness. It disrupts whatever judgy self-talk is going on and lets the person redirect focus to the audience. People perceive speakers who smile and appropriately use humor, particularly in their examples and storytelling, as more effective, honest, and credible. Help a sister or a brother out by smiling, and increase your enjoyment of the presentation as a result.
Of course you can also apply this information when you communicate. By remembering that what you say is never about you, it’s always about the people you are seeking to impact, it reminds you when you dial-up the fun in what you say and how you say it that you also are enhancing the impression you have on your audience.
Want to see some speakers who do this well? Take a peak at the women in my most recent Step Into Your Moxie Mastery group as they share their signature talks.