Want to make a great first impression? Smile! Never underestimate the power of a smile - after all, you're never fully dressed without one. Let's try something. Picture someone smiling. Close your eyes if that helps. I bet you're smiling too aren’t you? Now try it again. Visualise that smile, bursting onto someone's face, spreading to their eyes which are crinkling up with joy.
And now try to think of something sad or negative. It’s hard isn’t it!
Do it one last time and let that feeling of warmth and contentment that comes with a smile spread inwardly. Nice, isn’t it?
Smiling is contagious
Spread your smile! Smiling is contagious, a genuinely warm smile can pass through a crowd like a Mexican wave at a football match. People want to feel good and feel good about themselves, and like we’ve just seen with our experiment above, it’s pretty hard to feel down when you’re smiling.
An arresting smile can often break down the barriers of even the most steely-faced misery in the room.
Make a great first impression
When trying to make a good first impression, a smile can be the key to instantly establishing a good rapport with your conversation partner. Did you know that people typically make judgements within the first seven seconds of meeting someone? More on this in our blog: The seven seconds you most need to understand.
Whether its presenting to the board, a job interview, an after-dinner speech or even a first date, a smile may be the very first thing a person hears. And it's often louder than the spoken word! It says ‘this person is friendly, approachable, non-threatening’. It gains the attention of others and creating the opportunity to engage your audience further with what you have to say.
There are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to smiling. In situations where you may feel nervous, a smile can help to assuage anxiety and also give you time to think and plan your spoken responses.
When it isn’t your turn to talk, a smile denotes interest in what your conversation partner has to say, boosting their confidence and building your relationship with them.
Your body language communicates with others on a visual level, so it’s important to consider what your facial expression is telling those around you. For more on how first impressions affect communication, read our blog.
The power of a genuine smile
The best smile is a natural smile, often referred to as a Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile employs more facial muscles, namely the orbicularis oculi, lifting the cheeks and causing the eyes to crinkle.
It’s authentic and welcoming, with some behaviourists suggesting it can make people appear more attractive and co-operative, which is certainly advantageous when getting to know someone.
Meanwhile, if the smile isn't genuine, it can actually have a negative effect. Did you know the hint of a forced smile has the potential to alienate your listener, and a persistent, pasted grin can leave a lot of people feeling uncomfortable to say the least? So we need to make sure our smile is the real deal.
How to do the Duchenne smile
Ensure you’re relaxed and when you smile let it start at your eyes, and pull the edges of your mouth up. Feel that genuine crinkle, and as you do, not only will the lucky benefactor of your smile feel a little glow - you will too. Endorphins are being released! What clever humans we are.
The next time you’re in a situation that pulls you out of your comfort zone and you need to make the right first impression, take a deep breath and starting at your eyes, smile.
Get in touch with London Speech Workshop today by calling 020 3137 6323 to find out about types of support we offer.