To speak in front of a crowd is not the same thing like to look in the eyes of a certain person. But what about your presentation? Is it possible to make it successful without eye contact? Why it is so important to create this contact (or, at least, to imitate it correctly)? Let's talk about this.
When you concentrate on yourself and look only into your slide or papers, the attention of your audience may diffuse – people like to see you talking to them, to feel the emotional contact with the speaker. This contact is possible when you look at them. Not all the time, but during the main part of your presentation or meeting event. Eye contact will help your audience to pay attention to you and your speaking topic. Try to look at them – they will respond. This may sound difficult for big audiences, but we'll talk about this below.
Different interior details, blinking light bulb, cracks on the ceiling, trees and birds outside the window irritate and distract your own brain. You feel less and less concentrated and interested when you look everywhere except your audience. When you make eye contact you help yourself to focus and remember where and why you are now.
Wake them up
Your attendees are diverse – they all are people with different mood, characters, problems and psychological issues. When they come to your lecture and find their speaker looking into the window, most of the audience will also lose attention – sleep, play on their smartphones, draw something or just yawning (this is too catching for others). Look at them – and they will wake up and try to participate in your presentation or meeting. This is normal human reaction – to respond. How it works? Remember, sometimes in your life you could feel when someone was looking at you? This is one of the nature reactions to the potential danger, and now we are able to use it in peaceful purposes.
Eye contact makes you a significant person. Teachers, doctors, policemen, moms and dads know it perfectly. When you look in someone's eyes, this person begins to listen to you carefully. He or she subconsciously believes that you are right and know what you are talking about. You also feel yourself more strong, confident and brave. Use this on your lectures, but be afraid to overplay – stay positive and comfortable in your eye contact with the audience.
How to make eye contact
- Eye contact doesn't mean you need to stare at someone during the presentation. Your contact may establish a normal, healthy, comfortable connection between you and your attendees. Your students, colleagues or attendees may feel that you address your words to all of them and to every of them, but not to ONE of them.
Don't take your audience as a crowd. This is a number of personalities. Not a sea, but drops which make the sea. Try to see individuals in the audience. Try to put yourself at your attendee's place and imagine – what he or she sees? What feels? What hears?
- Many public speaking experts say that they choose several persons in the audience and imagine that they talk only to them. They say this method reduces a stress and makes you feel like you are speaking to small number of people. This is not a bad way to speak, only if you don't choose one or two persons. They may feel uncomfortable. And even if you use this way to communicate, remember – you must give a connection, not a pressing contact.
Don't stay eyes-to-eyes for a long time. This may look and feel strange. Wait for few seconds and move your eyes to another person. If someone raises his hand and wants to ask a question, look to him when you answer, not to the ceiling. When you feel that your phrase is too long, try to move your eyes in the middle of it, not in the end – such kind of eye contact may be too stressing for a person you look at. 3-5 seconds are normal. By the way, in any case try to use short phrases and make pauses: it will help not only you audience, but you too.
- Do they react? Usually if a person hears you, understands you, feels normally to contact with your eyes, he or she will nod and follow your intonations. Do you see this? So you are doing everything in the right way. Continue. Don't forget to turn your body to a person who you are contacting.
Finish your eye contact correctly. When you finish to say something, move your eyes down for a while. Look to another person's eyes only when you start your next phrase. You don't need to contact to everyone in the room. Use random way but try to involve many people.
- Remember that there are people who feel VERY uncomfortable when someone looks them in the eyes. This may be introverts or representatives of other countries, cultures. They may move their eyes down, look away. Don't press – respect their right to be understood. Choose another person to look at when you are speaking.
If such kind of person is you – and you don't feel good in eye contact, there is a secret by experienced speakers. Look at the bridge of their noses or foreheads. This feels like you are looking at the eyes (even if you are talking one-on-one) and makes you comfortable too. The rule also works good with big audiences, when you stand far from people – for example, on a stage.
© PodioBox 2017