The One Thing You Must

Do Every Time You Make a Speech or Presentation

There are as many pieces of advice about how to speak effectively as there are speeches at a Toastmasters Club meeting. Speak up, prepare, rehearse, use eye contact, be humorous, connect with the audience, and use stories and anecdotes to liven up the speech. The advice just keeps coming and all of it is interesting and relatively easy to learn.

But, there is one thing you definitely want to do every time you get up to speak in public: SMILE. Some people are afraid to smile because they think a smile would indicate a less than serious attitude toward the speech or toward the audience. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Audiences are people first and people love to smile. A smile helps them relax and it can help the speaker relax, too. However, you must make sure your smile is genuine; no phony smiles because audiences can spot a phony in a nanosecond. How can you tell if someone is smiling in a genuine way? Look at his or her eyes. Eyes light up when the smile is real.

Here’s an acronym to help you remember why it’s important to smile every time you speak:

Show your teeth

Make them smile back

Intend to smile

Like to speak in public

Energize the audience

Show Your Teeth

Think of some of the greatest smiles around today. Can you picture Tiger Woods and his great big grin? Most people say his smile is absolutely contagious. And he’s one of the most watched golfers on the tour. Could it be that famous smile?

And how about Julia Roberts? When she smiles, her whole face lights up that enormous silver screen. How do audiences react? They love her.

Then there’s Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gold Medalist for gymnastics in 1984. Her beautiful smile captivated audiences world-wide.

As a speaker, show your teeth and smile. You’ll be very pleased with the results you get.

Make Them Smile Back

It is almost impossible not to smile when someone smiles at you. It’s an automatic response, but the best part is the way it makes a person feel. Smiles can create instant rapport. Think about all the times people have smiled at you and how you’ve reacted. Unless something strange was going on, you probably smiled back and then felt good for some period of time. Smiling is a powerful motivational tool, especially for speakers.

Intend to Smile

Sometimes you have to decide ahead of time to insert a smile into your presentation. Some people actually write themselves a note on the side of their speaking outline that says in capital letters: SMILE! It works. Often in the midst of the speech, it’s difficult to remember to smile, so a quick reminder might be all you need.

Like to Speak in Public

This may be a stretch for some speakers, but if you learn the basic fundamentals of what constitutes a good speech, it’s easier to relax and actually enjoy the speech itself. When you begin to feel comfortable with your material and your audience, smiles will appear quite naturally.

Energize the Audience

Smiling energizes audiences. Every time you speak, energy is created in the room. Something is going to happen, either positive or negative energy begins to circulate. It is up to you to create positive energy and one way that can be done is with a few smiles.

One of the sayings we use at our company is Laughter Precedes Learning. We have found that the minute we can get people smiling or laughing, the atmosphere changes and learning begins. We have tested this concept for over 12 years now, and it works every time. By the way, this is not about telling jokes. We find that most people are not too good at telling a joke, so we’re talking about weaving your smiles and laughter into the speech content itself.

Let your smile be one of your greatest assets. Keep that old saying in mind as you get ready to speak, “Smile and the world smiles with you.”