Kim's - Valuable Tips, Ideas, and Insights to greater Confidence and Success

Kimberley Roberts etiquette, manners, confidence, and success go hand-in-hand Welcome to my ClassyTip for this week which focuses on:

- Appearance
- Behavior
- Communication

- How's Your Smile? :-) Tip #18

Have you prepared properly for your next business meeting, social or business function? What happens when you hear someone say,

"Hey Jack, stand next to George so I can get a picture." Or,

"Kelly and Steffi, move your chairs closer to Bette so I can get all three of you in the photo for our company newsletter."

You may occasionally, or even frequently find yourself in these situations where a camera is pointing at you. If so, are you comfortable in front of the camera when spontaneous, or even posed photos are being taken? And is the image of your face that's captured at these times an asset for you?

Typically, we plan for a 'professional portrait' by using someone to help with proper photographic makeup and wearing clothing with more simple lines, but the camera lens often captures us at other unplanned, more spontaneous moments. Let's take a look at how we can best prepare for those unexpected times, so that 'permanent image' makes us appear at our best.

And what is the most critical element that makes a person look good in a photo? The answer --- Facial expression and a good smile.

Each person has a natural smile, and for most photos that smile will be the best look, whether alone or in a group. But feeling 'natural' in front of a camera can be very difficult for many people. Why? Perhaps because we remember when we were teenagers and the photos of us weren't very flattering, or because it is unnatural to hold a locked smile on our face while the photographer makes those last few adjustments just prior to clicking the shutter.

Producing a 'natural smile' for photos requires practice, until you've learned how to easily ‘strike the pose’ that makes you look comfortable, confident, and at your best.

The first thing to understand is that any nervous tension immediately shows. The face has over 60 muscles; 20 will create a smile and 40 create a frown. When we're tense, anxious, or uncomfortable, our facial muscles respond almost completely opposite as to when we're relaxed. However, through practice, whether you’re relaxed or tense, you can train your facial muscles to respond on cue just as an actor does. Thus assuring a great picture every time.

So what are the steps to achieving a natural, photo perfect smile?

1. Just like the joke about how "do you get to Carnegie hall? Practice, practice, practice" - The first step is to practice in front of a mirror until you see a reflection of the natural look and smile you want to reproduce for your photographs.

At first, this sounds simple, but it may take a little time. Look closely at all the parts of your face in the mirror, not just at your eyes. Notice how, with practice, you can move the muscles around your mouth --- how does that change your expression. Evaluate the sensations you feel in each area of your face as you contract and release the tiny muscles. Try lifting your forehead muscles a little, what does that do for your eyes and cheeks?

Do you prefer a smile with your lips closed, slightly open, or a big smile showing your teeth. Concentrate on the actual feeling of your face and smile. What do the muscles around your mouth feel like? The ones around your eyes? Your cheeks? Maybe even back to your ears?

2. One way of finding the 'look' you like is to review photographs of yourself and find one that 'sends the message' you want in your future photos. Hold it beside your face while looking into the mirror. Use all 60 of those facial muscles to recreate that look you like. Again, this may take several sessions over a few days to 'learn' how to move your face. But I guarantee it will be worth the effort. You'd be surprised about the value of learning to control your facial expressions.

3. Knowing what your smile ‘feels like’ gives your brain the information it needs. Then when you tell your brain to "smile", it knows exactly which muscles to work, and how much to work them.

Now that you’ve learned how your smile feels, turn away from the mirror. Relax, then recreate your 'photo' smile and 'hold it. Slowly turn around and face the mirror again. Is that the smile and 'look' you want? Did you recreate it correctly?

If it is, congratulations! If not, what small adjustments do you need to make?

4. Using this technique periodically to 'check your smile' is a great way to gain confidence in your ability to create the facial 'look' you want.

Continue this process until you can turn your back to the mirror, think "smile" and as you turn to look into the mirror, you see yourself smiling with a warm and comfortable smile.

5. Remember, practice, practice, practice until you can create a natural smile on cue. Because, once you achieve this, you’ll always have it.

Corporate note: Depending on the circumstance and your position, there may be times when a more serious facial expression is necessary for photos. Use the same practice techniques to develop the appropriate facial expression until it becomes a natural pose for you.

The classy person appears natural, relaxed, and confident in photos. Body composure and the tilt of one's head can add to that look. Remember, to achieve the classy photo make sure your posture is good - shoulders back, neck lifted, and head positioned with chin slightly down, so your eyes look straight ahead, not up.

I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next week. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum that answers your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.

Kiberley Roberts ClassyTips

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