The Blog

Body language: smile – and the world smiles with you

I’m unaware of her name.

Or her title – or even her job.

But her welcome and her smile are the best I’ve ever seen in a hotel, anywhere in the world.

The woman who checks me into breakfast, scoring my room number off her list, is simply the friendliest breakfast host anywhere.

And this morning I told her so.

Why does it matter?

Because our first human contact when away on business is often the staff of the hotel where we stay.

Body language plays a major role in all communication.

A great start to the day

body language smile group sitting in restaurant.

I’m in Madrid, making one of many visits each year to our airline software client Amadeus, headquartered in the Spanish capital.

Being on Spanish time, my breakfast at 07:30 is really 06:30 back home.

So it’s early and I’m still somewhat tired.

But she’s about to get my day off to a positive start.

“Buenos Dias!” she says.


“Good Morning”

…in case I’m British.

“Good Morning,” I reply.

She faced me and with the most genuine smile you’ve ever seen, she adds:

“May I please have your room number?”

Scoring off my number, she adds:

“Please take a seat and enjoy your breakfast.”

Her body language was spot on with a genuine smile to top it off.

Smiling to order

body language smile in front of camera.

I can tell you from over two decades of presenting TV programmes: smiling genuinely to order is very difficult.

Arguably impossible.

It takes different muscles to “pull” a smile on purpose from those used when smiling as a reaction.

So TV presenters often look false when “smiling” to order for that reason.

Having had many recent trips through airports, I realise I can look guilty going through security, when all I want to do is look friendly.

But my false smile is meant to say:

“honest I’m innocent!”

The woman welcoming us to breakfast at the Novotel Puenta de La Paz in Madrid is different.

She looks genuinely pleased to see each and every one of her customers every morning.

Body language in business

body language smile in business meeting.

So what can we learn from this for business?

On the presentation skills and media skills courses we run at our Glasgow studios – and for that matter, everywhere around the world – the message is always the same.

We say

“smile – and the world smiles with you.”

A smile says

“I’m friendly. I like you. You can trust me.”

It’s the perfect way to begin and end a presentation – if it matches the subject matter of course.

At my stay in Dakota Hotel in Glasgow, I was also greeted with a great smile.

I wonder how many other hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh would offer the same quality of greeting?

It all starts with a smile

body language woman smiling.

So here’s three things to remember about your body language and the way you greet people:

  1. Smile – warmly and genuinely
  2. Be enthusiastic in your tone
  3. Look people straight in the eye when talking with them

We have written more on body language here.

That applies to media interviews, presentations, at meetings, on Skype or conference calls, at the coffee machine and even when you walk through the door after work.

I’ve left the Novotel restaurant when something urges me to go back to the woman at the restaurant desk.

“You know – I may have said this to you before,” I begin.

“But you give the warmest welcome of anybody I’ve ever met in any hotel anywhere.”

How does she react?

“Thank you very much,”

she says, with the widest, most genuine smile.

Smiling is a habit, as is frowning.

I know which will start my day better at breakfast time.


Bill McFarlan is the Executive Chairman of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here


Photo by Matthias Blonski on Unsplash

view all posts

Build Your Confidence

Some media trainers knock you down…and leave you down. Our media coaches show you how to deal with each knock…and still win through. So you have the presentation skills to perform – with confidence.

request a quote