A smile is worth a thousand words

In interviews, as with public speaking and performing, a genuine smile can make all the difference between polite acceptance and making a genuine connection.
June 20, 2019

An exceptional spokesperson embodies the message and employs verbal and non-verbal language to communicate.  A smile is one of the visual tools that can make your statements memorable, credible and compelling.  Facial expressions—even in telephone, radio and print interviews–can accentuate speech patterns, and add punch and zest to your statements.  A genuine smile shows you are happy and confident.  Even when delivering serious, technical or scientific information, a spokesperson who smiles naturally is displaying poise, competence and humanity.

Not all smiles are created equal.

Smiles are infectious. They cannot be forced or faked.  A real smile denotes sincerity. It engages the eye muscles and cheeks, opens the nasal passages, and aids breathing so that speech is enhanced and words come out clearer.

Experts in psychology and non-verbal communication have identified three types of smiles:

The Duchenne Smile is the natural smile.  It is characterized by movement of the muscles around the mouth, the eyes and cheeks.  The eyes wrinkle and the brows may rise.  The name comes from the Duchenne de Bologne, a 19th century French neurologist who studied the physiology of emotion. Actress Julia Roberts has a characteristically broad natural Duchenne smile.

JuliaRoberts-smile
Julia Roberts is known for her wide natural Duchenne smile.

The Pan American Smile takes its name from the wooden and overly polite smile of Pan American flight attendants.  It is also known as the “Botox smile” with voluntary movement around the mouth only.  It denotes someone who is paid to be nice to you but is not really having a great day.  It is also defined as an insincere or insecure smile that could alienate an audience.

Pan American smile was inspired by the “artificiality” of flight attendants of the time.

Down-turned smile or reverse smile:  Happens when the corners of the mouth are turned into a down-facing “u” shape.  It indicates high stress, unhappiness, anger, tension and that the speaker has something to hide. 

Former president George W. Bush has a classic down-turned smile.

So, even during phone interviews, a genuine smile can be heard and make the difference between a mediocre interview and an excellent one.

Visit www.rosemaryravinal.com for training on body language, public speaking, media and presentation skills.

Rosemary Ravinal

I teach business leaders how to shine on video calls and have more productive virtual engagement. As Founder/Chief Trainer at RMR Communications Consulting, I also help executives master the art of public speaking, inspiring presentations, and authoritative media interviews online and in person. My company’s services are available in English and Spanish in South Florida and elsewhere.

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