Should I Smile? – a speech by Geoff Peters at Best Run Toastmasters

Should I smile? – Speech by Geoff Peters
November 20th 2014
Best Run Toastmasters, Vancouver BC Canada

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One shouldn’t ask a woman (or man) to smile because they would look more pretty, because that is sexist, but as a teacher or mentor one can ask a person (including a woman) to smile if she wants to be more successful in business (as a public speaking coach)

Two kinds of smiles : a genuine smile that uses the eyes (Duchenne), and a fake polite smile that uses the mouth only

Smiling is a cultural thing: in some countries smiling is accepted, and in other countries smiling is not as common (Sabrina said about smiling in germany it’s not very common, whereas in the US you always consider someone who smiles more to be charming ,engaging , or charismatic.

In this speech, I will answer the question, should I be always smiling? How to relax to smile? And how to smile to become a better communicator?

My Smiling Story – should I always be smiling?

People always say I smile so much
I am nervous so I smile
I don’t know what to do so I smile
I feel that I need to have people like me, so I smile
Evaluators often comments that I am “always smiling” – always is not a good thing in public speaking, it’s better to have variety
Smiling too much is a sign of nervousness in actors – tell story of acting class
Learning to have a variety of facial expressions will be natural

Relaxing to smile – How to relax to smile?

Looking natural and relaxed is actually something that needs to be learned
Smiling makes my facial muscles tense
Relaxing the face through Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercises was a revolution, my face never felt relaxed ever before
To know that people will still pay attention even if I am not smiling
To have enough self confidence and self esteem that I am a valuable person, that I take up space, and that I am good enough, no matter what
How can I still learn things if I am already good enough?
Perhaps I need to stay teachable and humble, but also know that as a person I am already good enough at being and existing

Smile to Engage – How to smile to become a better communicator?

Smiling can be a powerful tool
I taught a 6 week course in public speaking
Research: Are smiling people more engaging
Alex saw the hula dancers, and couldn’t take his eyes off of the dancer who was smiling
When you smile the whole world or the whole room smiles with you
Smiling is fun
Do you need to learn to smile?

It’s Ok Not to smile, but try to relax

Some people have a natural resting face that is not smiley (e.g. suzanne, business person, successful executive, has a natural serious face)
Some people have a natural smile when they are resting?
Does it take energy to smile, more than frowning?
Is it ok to completely relax? Is it ok to be completely relaxed in the face, or how much expression or feedback should be shown when listening to someone? How can I know that someone is paying attention?

Relaxing is so important to performance – Bill Murray example, as an actor he discovered that when he is his most relaxed he has the best performance on his job.


The purpose of Facial Expressions (smiling)
Part of Body Language
Your face provides feedback to someone if you are listening, and your face conveys meaning when you are speaking. When you are communicating your face is always providing output to the world, should be a reflection of your current feelings.

Comes down to it: be yourself, and try to relax, and smile if you want to. It’s your face so you can use it how ever you want to express yourself.

Additional notes:
Smiling all the time

Relaxing – shouldn’t smile all the time, because smiling may involve tension (is it possible to relax and also smile at the same time? Can we separate a nervous smile with a relaxed smile?)

Engagement – be interested in others. Listening is more important. In TM we listen more than we speak. You have two ears so you should listen twice as much as you speak.
Smiling rocks! I love smiling. I want to be less nervous and more relaxed. I want to be a more effective and powerful communicator.
I want to be an effective writer.
How many muscles does it take to smile, compared to frowning?

Further reading:

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