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3 Benefits to Smiling While Instructing or Presenting

Posted by Jeff Welch on 5/19/14 4:00 AM
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“A smile is happiness you find right under your nose.” ~ Tom Wilson

Smiling is the body’s natural, physiological response to things we find funny, cute, or endearing. How many of you find your laughs accompanied by a big smile when you hear a joke told by your favorite comedian? Or, who can resist casting a warm smile at the sight of a newborn baby?

Smiling may seem like an involuntary response that happens when we’re happy. However, there’s more to it than that. Many scientific studies have concluded that smiling can actually benefit your health. In addition to the health benefits, I believe that smiling can benefit our classroom performance as a trainer.

1. Smiling makes you appear more trustworthy

As trainers, we’re tasked with leading our learners and taking them on a journey of discovery and learning. Trust and credibility must be established before our learners will follow. In addition to sharing your accolade-filled introduction with your audience, you might consider flashing your warm and genuine smile as a way to gain trust and build leadership credibility.

Two university studies suggest that smiling makes you appear more trustworthy and increase your credibility as a leader.

Participants in a University of Pittsburgh study rated people who smiled more trustworthy than people with non-smiling facial expressions. Also, a group of researchers from the University of Montpellier in France concluded that smiling is just as effective when demonstrating leadership as other characteristics such as confidence and compassion.

2. Smiling releases endorphins

Smiling can help you manage stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals in the human body that make us feel upbeat. They are the same chemicals released while working out or running, resulting in what is sometimes known as a “runner’s high.”

While I know it’s not always easy to smile during stressful situations, studies suggest that doing so just might help you calm down. Based on research conducted by the psychology department at the University of Kansas-Lawrence, research participants who smiled during highly stressful events had lower heart rates than those with neutral facial expressions.

So the next time your multimedia projector doesn’t work properly, or you have to compete with “Chatty Cathy’s” sidebar conversation, literally grin and bear it. That grin (also known as a smile!) might help you handle the situation with a bit less stress.

3. Smiling is contagious

It doesn’t take a research scientist to know that smiling makes you appear more friendly and approachable. I’ve even found that if you smile at someone, they will often smile back.

As a matter of fact, the results of a recent study conducted by a German university suggest that smiling is contagious. Researchers at the University of Tubingen found that complex brain activity occurs when you see someone smile. Simply seeing another person smile activates the area of your brain that controls your facial movement, which ultimately leads to a smile on your face.

While instructing in the training room, or delivering a presentation, your very own smile might just be the best tool to help you connect with your audience or encourage your learners to embrace a new policy or procedure. If you smile, it’s likely they’ll smile back!

So the next time you take to the platform or the podium, consider flashing the pearly whites; it just might have more benefits than you expect!

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Jeff has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Western Kentucky University. Before pursuing his passion for training, Jeff worked as a television reporter, flight attendant, fitness instructor, and tour guide. Jeff started his career in training at the daily newspaper in Atlanta. Training seemed to be a natural fit for him since he’s always been a bit of a performer. When at home, you’ll catch Jeff watching a cooking show, recreating a dish he’s eaten abroad, or exploring one of the many great restaurants in the Chicago area. During the summer months, he hits the road to follow the talented drum corps of Drum Corp International—something he’s done since high school!

Topics: instructional techniques, presentation skills, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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