Learning from Mona Lisa: the science and art of a smile

The cover story of The Atlantic’s November 2017 issue offers a fascinating explanation for Leonardo da Vinci’s creative genius: It straddled the arts and the sciences.

The article, “The Science Behind Mona Lisa’s Smile,” breaks down the use of anatomy, chemistry and art that resulted in an image that seems to smile back at you.

The power of a smile is not lost on Dardis. In our public-speaking program, we address a host of physical skills – from eye contact to a balanced stance to the position of your hands. Facial expressions are key.

We ask clients how they want to be perceived when they give a presentation. Enthusiastic? Approachable? Credible? For far too many professionals, their facial expressions contradict this objective.

A smile sets the tone, is reciprocated and reflects something positive. Its message is vital for any public speaker: that she or he is happy to be there.

The good news is, just as we can train ourselves to resist filler words or adjust our pacing as a speaker, we can also develop greater awareness of our facial expressions. They matter not only when we speak but when we listen.

It all adds up to a consistent, lasting message: look the part, sound the part, know the part. Speak as well as you think.

Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications, the Midwest’s leading professional training company.