Join Jeff Ansell for an in-depth discussion in this video Managing facial expression, part of Communicating with Confidence.
- To look like you mean what you're talking about, your facial expression needs to match your words. Use facial expression to show confidence. Use facial expression to help you deliver your message. One effective way to manage facial expression is to visualize what you're talking about as you talk about it. Make pictures in your head that bring what you're talking about to life. Connecting to that image and focusing on it allows you to stay in the current instant and have facial expression that's in sync with the message you're delivering.
Facial expression that does not match the words being said delivers a mixed message. Here's an example. Imagine I'm a speaker opening a presentation or a speech. Good morning, everybody. I'm very happy to be here. Well, that speaker didn't look or sound happy, even though he claimed he was. The words did not match the facial expression. But if that same speaker says it like this. Good morning. I'm very happy to be here today. Now the facial expression matches the message.
To give you the right facial expression, always let the mood, tone, and texture of what you're talking about be reflected in your eyes. I've got good news to deliver. I've got disappointing news to deliver. The eyes set the pace for the rest of the face. So we want to have meaningful and genuine facial expression using our eyes to help lead the way. We want the look in our eye to convey confidence, conviction, and a connection.
Some people have tendencies, however, that undermine their credibility. For instance, as I'm speaking to you at this very moment, how would you describe my facial expression? Would you say it's confident, knowledgeable, engaging? I bet you think I look unfocused. Why? Because I'm looking up. And when people look up, it appears as if they're lost or searching for something to say or pleading to the heavens. Facial expression that conveys uncertainty undermines our believability.
But I'm not uncertain. The only reason I was looking up is because in that instant in time, I was thinking visually, and up here is where the pictures are parked. Looking up is common to all of us. We do it every day. We're not going to stop doing it. But a facial expression that has our eyes looking up has us appearing uncertain. Could it be that facial expression with eyes that look down can help us look thoughtful? Now as I'm speaking to you, how does this look? What do you think I'm thinking about right now? What's for dinner? But you thought I was in some deep thought.
Looking down and off to the side helps us look thoughtful. When I was a television news anchor, I needed the ability to smile (laughs) on cue, but I didn't have the ability to smile on cue. When I tried to smile on demand, my face would contort inappropriately. And you know, people can tell when others are faking a smile. In a genuine smile, we raise the corners of the mouth. We raise our cheeks and we get what's called crow's feet around the eyes. Anyone can raise the corner of the mouth, but showing crow's feet on our face is hard to fake.
It's difficult to do at will, especially for somebody lacking in confidence. But to have crow's feet, you need to genuinely smile, so I (laughs) needed to find a way to smile when a smile wouldn't come naturally. And I found it through raising my eyebrows, which lifts up my whole face, and here I am smiling. Do you have a hard time smiling naturally on cue? Do you look up without realizing it? Try recording yourself talking so you can see your facial expressions as you try to match them with your message.
- Organizing your thoughts
- Speaking slowly, naturally, and confidently
- Breathing properly
- Using your body to reinforce speech
- Managing facial expressions
- Handling nervousness
- Integrating voice modulation, eye contact, and hand gestures into a powerful and engaging communication style