Actually, You Shouldn't Smile More

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We place a lot of value on our smile, both personally and professionally. A winning grin can help you enjoy all kinds of social advantages, deployed correctly. In business, however, there are times when your best bet is to put those pearly whites away.


Researchers at the University of Central Florida have been looking into what your smile does for potential investors. They tracked some pretty simple factors: how many seconds an entrepreneur smiles in a Kickstarter video versus how much relative to its funding goal that project ultimately raises. It's not just any smile they're analyzing, though — the UCF team was looking at presenters' "peak joy," their biggest smiles. At a certain point, peak joy smiles offer diminishing returns.

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Viewers who saw about three seconds worth of peak joy smiling rewarded that Kickstarter with 11.3 percent more funding than those with only two seconds worth. Presenters with huge smiles for four seconds actually lost nearly a third in prospective funding, a trend which only worsened the more the presenter smiled. In essence, too much peak joy made potential investors uncomfortable; to them, it seemed abnormal and unprofessional.


Ultimately, the UCF study finds that the best times to dole out your excitement in a presentation is when it will be most memorable. Use enthusiasm at the beginning and the conclusion of your sales pitch. This helps with the creepily named but accurately termed "emotional contagion" you want to instill.

There's always a line between overly formal and too casual. Other studies have found that emojis in the workplace can hold you back in certain ways. If you're looking to improve your presentation skills, how you control your own emotions and your audience's are always a good place to start.