Smile: There's a reason we can see one from up to 90 metres away.

Did you know, the smile is the only facial expression that we can see from a distance? A smile can be seen from up to 90 metres away- there's a good reason for this. 

Think of it from an evolutionary perspective- when our early ancestors saw someone approach from a distance, their smile would indicate that they were a friend, not foe. The potential threat of confrontation would be eased. 

So why is this important today?

As with many nonverbal communication expressions and gestures, the smile is universal (across all cultures), and innate. It's ingrained deep within us, because it's helped us to survive for many thousands of years. So, while we aren't necessarily consciously thinking about these nonverbal cues, our brain is busy processing them at a subconscious level. It's using them to influence our feelings and behaviour. In the case of a smile, the brain is processing whether or not you are in danger- is the person in front of us a threat? And though these days, for many of us, the threat may not be as harsh as those we used to contend with- your brain is still working to protect you, to ensure your survival. 

Let's put that knowledge to use and become more conscious of our smile. If you haven't already built a relationship with someone, for example when you're meeting them for the first time- let's say a date, or if you're presenting to an audience, it's important to smile. I'm assuming here, that in those situations you would be happy to be there to warrant a smile- though I'm guessing you'd probably be a little nervous too! 

Make sure you smile on approach- from the very moment you become visible to your audience (or date), not just when you enter the stage or greet them. Their brain will tell them they can relax- you're a friend and not a threat. Your relationship will get off to a much better start- they'll feel much more comfortable with you from the outset and will be more likely to listen to you with an open mind. 

Once you're there and the conversation or presentation begins, there's no need to keep smiling continuously, like a buffoon! Just let your expression show your true emotions and be authentic. Though, you'll do much better if you do share moments of genuine happiness and express them with your smile...

Science of People analysed hundreds of hours of TED talks, to answer the question:

All TED talks are good. Why are some great?

One of the patterns they found, was that TED talkers who smiled in their presentation- during moments of genuine happiness, were given much higher charisma and credibility ratings. So if you're presenting or pitching, even if you're talking about something serious, make sure you include snippets that bring you (or remind you of) moments of genuine happiness. Your audience will be able to relate to you more and will feel more comfortable in your presence...

:-)