Your facial expressions tell a lot about you! They’re easier for people to read than your hand gestures and are a very obvious indicator of mood and tone.
If audiences are engaged and listening intently, they’ll often mimic your facial expressions.
If you laugh they’ll laugh. If you smile they’ll smile, and if you keep a very straight face, well, you get the picture!
In order to truly engage a crowd, you have to make them feel like you’re having a natural conversation rather than a scripted lecture. One of the key elements in which your speech turns into is eye contact.
Eye contact is fairly straightforward: look at the audience and not at your slides or notes. Although, that’s a lot easier said than done.
It is very important that your notes or slides do not set you up for failure. If you’re using notes, make a bulleted list of all the main points rather than writing your speech word for word. I cannot emphasize how vital this is for eye contact.
You effectively force yourself to look at the audience and to look around the room. The same principle applies if you’ve made a presentation. Don’t clutter your slides!
As for where to look during a speech, casually glance around the room while speaking. If you’re very focused on where exactly to look it is taking up too much of your valuable attention span.
As long as you’re looking in the direction of the audience, leave your mind to focus on your speech!
Speeches always have a connotation. Whether it’s happy or sad, indifferent or passionately angry, facial expressions will convey your mood to the audience the fastest.
At face value (no pun intended) it seems pretty straightforward; smile when you’re saying things that are happy and don’t for things that aren’t.
In reality, it is a little more complicated than that. Your audience, when engaged, will tend to mimic the emotions that you portray. That being said, consider how to act when planning your speech by asking yourself how you want your audience to act.
If you make a joke or want a casual atmosphere about something you said, smile and chuckle and they’ll likely follow. If a speech becomes very passionate and intense (you’ll probably do this naturally) keep a straight face.
If you’re telling a story in which you were very scared, act scared! You want the audience to feel the same way you did so that they react to the story in its intended way.
Facial Expressions may seem like common sense but they are fundamental in engaging and resonating with an audience.