Non-Verbal Communication Element #2 –
Facial Expressions


What does your FaceSay?'No Sweat Public Speaking!' - Facial Expressions

We’ve heard expressions like; “I can read his face”, or, “The expression on her face told the whole story.”

Those expressions are correct!  The ways our face expresses emotion are varied, but the interpretations are pretty much universal.

The first, and most important Facial expression is – a Smile!

A Smile definitely is universal.  It makes people feel liked and gives the impression you care about them.

A Smile can instantly put people, including your audience, at ease.

It conveys warmth.  It’s a powerful expression that communicates friendliness no matter what language people speak or where they come from.

It can also, almost instantly, make you feel better and ease any tension you might have.  (Keep this in mind when the butterflies in your stomach start flying.)

I refer to a smile as a Non-Physical Hug.  Here’s the analogy:  One of the neat things about a hug: When you give one – you get one right back!  The same results often come with smiling.

Smiling translates into happiness, and it’s contagious!

Of course, other expressions can be made with your face. These can involve more than just your mouth and eyes.

Take a few moments, please, and picture the following expressions in your mind’s eye.

Better yet, stand in front of a mirror and make your face express these emotions:

  • Yech!
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Embarrassed
  • Surprised
  • Nervous
  • Tastes Good!
  • Tired
  • Devious
  • Sleepy
  • Sour
  • Goofy

Interesting, isn’t it, how much we can communicate without saying a word?

Other facial expressions, often involuntary, include:

  • Yawning – sleepy, bored
  • Pursing lips – to hold back emotion
  • Tearing up and crying – Emotion
  • Sweating – feeling uneasy
  • Blushing – embarrassed, ill at ease
  • Raising eyebrows – surprised, shocked

And . . . ‘with a wink and a nod’ we can easily convey a message to those we’re communicating with.

About the Author:
Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.


  1. Love this site Fred. I am using what I learn to improve my written and presented speeches. Thanks for sharing such great and useful content.

  2. Fred E. Miller says:


    Thanks for your comments.

    All the parts and elements of our speeches have to be in sync. If they aren’t, the non-verbal communication is what people will believe.

  3. Fred — yet another awesome post — I actually made a couple of these faces in the mirror that you mentioned. It is absolutely amazing but true that there are universal facial expressions for all of those emotions.

  4. Another thought about this — I think that some of the best speakers are able to imitate these facial expressions at appropriate times — in an exaggerated fashion — e.g. Someone asks a provocative question in the audience and the eyebrows shoot up and the hand goes straight to the mouth — it creates energy and the rest of the audience is watching you (the speaker) for cues.

  5. Fred E. Miller says:



    Think about a mime and the expressions they make. No talk, just facial expressions and body movement.

    Important to remember that all these have to be in sync. We can’t give the audience mixed messages.

    All these expressions are not voluntary. It’s the involuntary ones that let us ‘behind the curtain’ and reveal a person’s true feelings.

  6. Fred E. Miller says:

    Good point, Russ.

    Exaggeration is the Key, especially when speaking in front of larger groups.

    Thanks for your comment and insight.

  7. influence says:

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  8. mwangi gathoni says:

    Thanks alot. excellent points and very helpful to a counsellor

  9. I think everything published made a bunch of sense.

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    I mean Non-Verbal Communication Element #2 – Facial Expressions :
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  10. Fred E. Miller says:

    Thank you, Kathlene, for your comments. They are excellent and I use some in later posts.

    Where, please, are you located and do you do public speaking?

    Make Your next presentation – NO SWEAT!
    Fred Miller

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