Many celebrities and famous personalities from the past had remarkable abilities which helped foster or support their success. John F. Kennedy, for example, had a talent for meeting hundreds of people while somehow memorizing all their names, a skill many of us don’t find that easy. However, Kennedy’s knack for remembering names required only that he become aware in that moment and allow his brain to recognize patterns and connections. To get more perspective on developing this skill, check out our previous post which gives seven tips for remembering names.
Marlene Dietrich, the famous German post-war actress, understood the power of a first meeting and had a simple trick she used whenever she walked into an audition and wanted to appear more radiant. Right before entering the stage, she would press her lips together, holding her index finger horizontally in front of her mouth and then push out her cheeks like a balloon full of air. She’d hold this pressure for several seconds, then let it go, relaxing all the muscles in her face. As you can imagine, it looked fairly silly, but what she knew was that she’d walk into that audition feeling completely relaxed and smiling.
If you try this technique on your own, holding the pressure in your face for about 20 to 30 seconds, then releasing it, you’ll notice afterwards you feel the corners of your mouth going up ever so slightly. It won’t be the broad smile that you get when someone cracks a joke or tries to make you laugh. Rather it will be something akin to the Mona Lisa smile—that very slight smile we are all familiar with. You can read our companion blog to learn more about the power of the Mona Lisa smile.
The mere lifting of the muscles at the corners of your mouth sends signals to your brain that you’re smiling, which actually helps put you in a better and happier mood. You’ll find yourself feeling open and active which sets the stage, if you will, for making a more powerful impact when stepping into a meeting.
When you smile, you’re sending signals to your brain that help create a happier mood. Tweet this
If you’re feeling emotionally turbulent in the few minutes just before meeting someone, I recommend giving Marlene’s technique a try. Don’t feel embarrassed about looking silly for a moment. Just see if it relaxes you and helps your mood. If it works for you, shoot me a quick email. I would love to hear about it.
Image: Metropolitan Theatre, Washington, DC, circa 1920