5 FAQ About How to Use Eye Contact
1) Why should I use eye contact?
It helps you connect to the audience, no matter how big or small. Whether you're speaking to an audience of four or four thousand, it can help to create a one-on-one communication experience for each audience member. It also demonstrates your confidence and proves that the information resides in your head, not in your notes or on the slides. And it helps you get feedback on how people are reacting to your presentation.
2) How long should I look at each person?
Approximately 5 seconds, which is about the time it takes to complete a thought. Then move on to another person. Avoid darting your eyes around the room, trying look at everyone at the same time.
3) What if I'm uncomfortable looking at people's eyes?
It is very intimate to look in someone's eye; remember the old adage, "the eyes are the window to the soul"? If you're uncomfortable looking directly into their eyes, you can start by looking right above their eyes, at their eyebrows. The difference won't be obvious to them and as you practice and get more comfortable, you can try looking them straight in the eye.
4) What if someone in the audience is uncomfortable with my looking at them?
He or she can choose to look away. If someone repeatedly looks away, don't take it personally. Just glance over him or her on your way to focusing on someone else.
5) Who should I look at in the audience?
Your goal is to look at everyone and not ignore any section or person. You want to communicate that each person in the audience is important so don't focus only on the highest-ranking person in the room or the one friendly face. And since no one should be able to predict where you will look next, avoid what I call "tennis eyes," where you move your eyes from one side of the room to the other in a repetitive pattern, as if you were watching a tennis match.
With practice, you'll be able to use eye contact with ease and convey your message to your audience with confidence.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.
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