Dos and Don’ts of Eye Contact
Eye contact is something public speaker take lightly of. It is one of the most important aspects of delivering a speech. This is because keeping eye contact will make you appear more believable as well as confident. Below are the lists of do’s and don’ts of eye contact.
When making presentations eye contact is very important. In fact, your goal should be to maintain eye contact 90% of the time. Think of the audience as one person because it helps to keep the delivery conversational and reminds you to maintain eye contact like you would in a regular one-on-one conversation.
When delivering a talk, look directly into the eyes of a person and communicate a thought, then when you look away, you just move to another set of eyes. So, when you mentally shift from one idea to another, you also physically shift your eyes to a new person. Do not stare at one person for too long though, it will scare them away!
Of course, you don't want to move like a robot and in a calculated manner, you'll want to naturally move from person to person, and in a very large room from section to section. Keep in mind that the sweet spot in a large auditorium is about 2/3 of the way back towards the centre. When you look there, a good portion of the audience will think you are looking directly at them, but don’t forget to include the people in the very front, all the way back, and both sides. In short, don’t just fix your place of standing on one side, you need to pay attention to all your audience.
If you’ve had any public speaking training, it’s likely you already know the importance of eye contact, yet, most people don’t maintain enough eye contact during presentations because they are used to avoid making eye contact. Your goal should be to have direct eye contact with your audience 90-95% of the time. This means, not looking at your projected slides and looking up or down to plan your words.
To come back to the previous point, the most common mistake is turning to look at the projected slides. This happens because most people use their slides as their notes. They include a long and boring text on a slide and then when they are presenting, they turn their body to read the information that’s on the slide. And the problem is worse when they use a laser pointer because that’s when even more turning and talking to the screen occurs. Audience don’t want to see you reading the slides because they can do that by themselves. Audience want to see you talk.
Most people don’t even realize how often they are NOT looking at the audience. They think they are maintaining eye contact, but they are not. It helps to watch a video of yourself presenting to see the extent of the problem.
Those are the dos and don’ts of eye contact. Proper implementation of these tips and tricks will hopefully make you a greater speaker from what you already are!