Think about the last time you gave a presentation. When you looked out at the audience, what did you see? In most cases, you probably saw a lot of seemingly unhappy faces, which can be very unsettling to you as the speaker.
However, it’s highly likely that those scowls and furrowed brows are not portraying anger; those people are just deep in thought about what you’re saying. And those frowns are not necessarily unhappy or upset people; they might simply be in awe or surprised by something you’ve said and they’re trying to make sense of this new found knowledge in the context of their own work (perhaps it even overturns their hypotheses and they are mentally scrambling to make sense of it for their own project’s sake). Finally, those blanks stares don’t always imply boredom or confusion; those people are probably following along just perfectly and understanding everything you’re saying.
The point is that these negative facial expressions are not always associated with negative thoughts. However, from your perspective, given the lack of positive facial expressions in the audience, you might feel as though you are not being received well at all. But maybe these individuals simply have a less-than-happy-looking resting face. That’s not your fault, and it has nothing to do with you. In fact, you and your presentation might be knocking it out of the park! However, the fact remains that wouldn’t be able to know that based on the body language feedback you’re receiving.
Now, turn the tables.
Have you ever thought about what your resting face and your facial expressions convey about you? If you are genuinely interested in a topic, does it show? Or do you appear as though you are angry or bored?
In a large setting, such as a seminar or lecture, it is less of an issue if you seem angry or bored from outward appearances because you are one person in a massive sea of faces. The odds of the speaker taking YOUR facial expressions personally are very small.
However, in a small setting, for example a one-on-one conversation at a networking event, unpleasant resting faces can leave your potential network connection with a sour opinion of you, which is obviously not good.
How do we fix this? We ensure that our resting face conveys positive energy by taking notes and adopting strategies from an unlikely source… news anchors and talk-show hosts.
Have you ever noticed how news anchors and talk-show hosts always look thrilled to meet their guests on set and interview them? But they do so without being overly obnoxious and enthusiastic? It’s not like they have giant ear-to-ear smiles plastered on their faces and are exploding with energy. What they exude is a more contained positive energy that makes the guest feel welcome.
Considering that they are merely the host of the show, they probably aren’t as thrilled as they seem to be to meet every single person who comes on the show. By nature, they have to entertain a variety of personalities to cater to the broader viewer audience, so it’s unlikely that they are actually as thrilled as they seem to be to meet everyone they host on the show. Yet, as a viewer, you wouldn’t have a clue that they weren’t actually interested in a particular guest. What is it they makes us believe otherwise?
Connie Dieken, a successful news show host who has branched out and created her own speaking engagement brand, shares her trademarked move that she claims has led to all of her successes both on and off the screen.
The Magic Move, as she has coined it, is simple. She instructs her mentees to put their index fingers at the corners of their lips and lift up slightly. Then she tells them to move their fingers away but to maintain this lip stance using only the muscles in your face. The result is a tiny hint of smile.
Additionally, because these little muscles, known as the levator labii muscles, connect the corners of your mouth to your eyes, activating these muscles simultaneously makes your eyes look more attentive and engaged – they “sparkle” as Connie puts it.
Obviously, the tiniest of smiles and a hint of an attentive sparkle in your eyes will be received much more positively than an inadvertent frown and a blank stare.
This is the ideal resting face you should strive for, especially in one-on-one networking conversations. Keep in mind that everyone loves themselves, and they love talking about themselves and having other people be interested in what they’re saying. If you look bored or uninterested in what they are saying, they will lose interest in you. So make sure your facial expressions convey a sense of excitement and genuine interest when you’re speaking with potential network connections.
Although it may seem like a bit of work to adjust your resting face, it is definitely worth it, and it really doesn’t require that much effort at all. Unfortunately, despite your true thoughts and feelings, your facial expressions can, and often do, convey a completely different message. And you don’t want to send the wrong message to someone you’re meeting for the first time because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
So take heed to Connie’s advice and adjust your resting face because it most certainly affects your image. To see her “Magic Move” in action for yourself, pay attention to the host on the next talk-show you watch and look for this technique. Notice how the host either does or doesn’t have a slight smile while listening to their guests, and take note of how they come across given their facial expressions.
After seeing firsthand how this can drastically change your view of the talk-show host, realize that the same habits will either negatively or positively affect your image as well. Then, to ensure that you always give off positive vibes, try her technique in the mirror and see the difference for yourself. Finally, apply this technique to your next networking event and see how it influences other people’s interactions with you. I’ll bet they’ll improve and lead to some great opportunities for you!
** Adjust your resting face to project a positive image and let us know how it goes! **
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