What happens to your face when you speak in public?
A recent study rated people’s attractiveness after they demonstrated an emotion. It turns out that I will find you attractive if your emotions are easy to read. If they’re hard to read, on the other hand, I’m not going to be so ready to like you.
The finding has interesting implications for public speakers and presenters. Some speakers who, in normal conversation, are personable, friendly, open and relaxed will become emotional zombies when on stage.
What’s happening is that their fight-or-flight response to the stress of public speaking—stage fright, in other words—causes them to lose facial affect particularly, and overall demeanor in general. They become stone-faced, in short.
Further, they’re usually not aware of this shift in their behavior. When I ask someone how they think they did in terms of smiling, connecting with the audience, and generally looking conversational, they’re often convinced that they were their usual charming selves.
So, we go to the video—and they’re astonished. I don’t have to tell them; they can see it. “OMG, I look tragic!” or, “I never cracked a smile once!” are typical reactions.