“When I see pictures or video of myself speaking, I look mean! Frankly, I look like a bitch,” said my new presentation client. “I smile in conversation, when I’m off stage, but I don’t smile enough during my presentations. What can I do?”
My client clearly knew the value of connecting with her audience through smiling. You can be an audience magnet with your smile. Here are a few tips to increase smiles in your presentations:
1. Be passionate and enthusiastic about your content. If you aren’t excited, why should your audience be excited?
2. Don’t practice in front of a mirror–draw faces (eyes) on a few sheets of paper and place them around the room. Talk to the eyes, making sustained eye contact (for a complete thought, usually a sentence, but not always).
3. Practice portions of your presentation conversationally, one-on-one (or one-on-two or three). Talk about your content with friends, family and colleagues. If you smile more in conversation, practicing conversationally will help you speak more conversationally and should also increase your natural smiles.
4. Set up a mirror at your desk to see what you look like while talking on the phone (answer with a smile).
5. Don’t memorize, internalize! Don’t try to memorize your content word for word (aside from perhaps your opening and closing lines and a few key phrases). Practice from keywords. When most people try to memorize a speech, they expend a great deal of mental energy—energy that could be used to focus on the audience.
6. Limber up with laughing on the way to the presentation—either in your car or in your hotel room. Laughing in a restroom might be rather odd, though.
7. Stretch in a restroom prior to your presentation, including doing some facial stretches. Releasing tension and relaxing your muscles will make it easier to smile.
8. Listen to upbeat music prior to your presentation, if possible.
9. Start out smiling! Smile at your introducer and smile at the audience prior to speaking. Then you have made a memorable and smiling first impression!
10. End with a smile, too! Leave your audience with the lingering feeling that you enjoyed your topic and you enjoyed them as an audience.
Do you have other suggestions for ways to smile more during a presentation?