Like most people I love holidays and on a recent trip to the USA, I visited a local pizza shop where I met a lady who greeted me with a beautiful, friendly smile asking me how I was doing and what she could help me with; “Service with a smile, she looks like she really loves her job” I thought to myself.  This got me thinking about when we deliver training and how in feedback, I often ask delegates to smile more.  But why? On our courses, we deal a lot with positive body language of which a smile is such a crucial part of our facial non-verbal communication.  Consider then my thoughts above when I perceived the lovely lady enjoyed her job; I didn’t know this, how could I?  My perception was from her warmth and the smile towards me that she was comfortable, confident and happy but was she? - I’ll never know; however, the impression she made was my inspiration for this blog, so that’s saying something, isn’t it! So what does your smile do?
  1. Standing in front of an audience is for some extremely daunting and people will often wear their emotions on their face which makes the audience perceive that they are perhaps nervous, under-confident, under-prepared and many more things that are detrimental to a learning environment.  If however, you smile, then the perception will be the same as mine was with the lady in the pizza shop; it doesn’t matter what’s going on inside your head you will look calm, comfortable and happy.  A training colleague of calls this technique “fake it till you make it” and I often talk about the great analogy of the Serene Swan as on the top of the water it looks extremely elegant gliding across the water while underneath the little legs are paddling like mad!
  2. Smile at your audience and see what happens – If you smile at them, what comes back? Watch how many times a smile will come winging its way back to you, creating a common feeling of happiness, trust and a great learning environment!
  3. You smiling will actually release a loop of positivity in your brain which will give an emotional response giving you a feeling of joy and happiness.
But what if you still find smiling difficult?  Here are 3 easy tips to a better smile:
  1. Think Happy Thoughts - Just before you deliver your training think happy thoughts of someone or something that gives you a feeling of joy. Importantly, this helps you make your smile appear very genuine.
  2. Practise - Practise in front of the mirror or your family and friends and see what the reaction is in both yourself and them. Have a bit of fun with it and see what happens!
  3. Become comfortable with smiling - The more you do it, the more natural it will become, and before long you’ll do it without even thinking about it.
Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.