Public Speaking Tips
Body Language 2
USING EYE CONTACT
"It is looking at things for a long time
that ripens you and gives you
a deeper understanding." Vincent Van Gogh
Use It Or Lose It!
Does it matter if you glance over your audience, gathering them up with a mere blink of an eye then revert to stare deeply at your notes or out into space?
Have you ever spoken to someone who looks right through you, as if you don't exist, or continues to look the other way? You would know how quickly you lose interest, respect and patience with that human being.
Yet so often public speakers treat their audiences the same, making little or no attempt to connect with their eyes, as if the audience is not important or doesn't exist.
If you don't use eye contact effectively you lose your audience!
Eye Contact Builds Rapport: Great speeches are like one-on-one conversations with each audience member. When you make eye contact, you are connecting to your audience. It helps to establish rapport, makes them feel special and that they are important.
To learn more about building rapport with an audience, join our next Public Speaking Course!
Eye Contact Gives Immediate Feedback: The other reason to make eye contact is that you gain an understanding of your audience.
It gives you immediate feedback. You can see if they are listening, if they are interested, worried, excited, bored or delighted. You can then change and modify your presentation, ask questions or shift yourself into a more resourceful state, so as to meet the requirements of the moment.
How to Use Eye Contact
Try to reach your entire audience. If you are giving a presentation to a group of people, the eye contact can be done in an irregular and unpredictable "Z" formation - looking at one person for three to five seconds and then moving across the room and settling on another face.
Toastmasters recommends you try to hold each person's eye for about 4 to 5 seconds.
We suggest you stay connected to one person for just as long as you sense they are listening. Watch for that little 'nod' of acknowledgement, or a look in their eyes that they know you have just spoken to them. Then move gracefully on to someone else in the crowd.
If you are performing to a hugh audience, obviously you will not connect with everyone, however when you look directly at one person, the people around them and behind them - the group in that area - actually feel like you have acknowledged them.
With large audiences and under bright lights, you have to pretend you see their eyes even when you can't, by envisioning them.
Problems Using Eye Contact
Staring: The possible problem area with eye contact is if you over do it and start to stare. Keep relaxed. Bare in mind you are building rapport and building a relationship, not trying to drill your message into their brains. When you build rapport you move in harmony with your audience and they will remember you and your message.
Finding Frowns & Furrows: As a public speaker, there will be many times when you spot a frown or furrowed brow in your audience.
Smile and move onto another more accepting face. Otherwise you may lose your concentration or energy trying to convince the owner of that face to be agreeable!
Know that some audiences are more analytical, detailed information seekers and they show their thoughts.
If you find the majority of your audience is frowning - YOU are the problem and you'll need to acknowledge this and make changes immediately!
To learn more about understanding audiences - come along to our next Speaking Workshop.
Being Brave Enough: Yes, making eye contact can be challenging - even with small audiences. We can feel exposed and vulnerable.
The way to overcome this is practice:
Have dinner together at a table where you can practice looking deeply into one-another's eyes. Make a game of it!
Gently look a little longer into the eyes of your customers, or strangers. Strengthen your ability to make contact, little by little. ... A whole new world of friendships could come your way!
- "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" we say, but we must consciously focus on beauty to take it in. So focus on the beauty - the heart, mind and spirit of your listener/s.
To develop better eye contact skills, the best advice we can give you is, "forget yourself and see the beauty of your audience."
"Develop interest in life as you see it: in people, things, literature, music -
the world is so rich, simple throbbing with rich treasures,
beautiful souls and interesting people.
Art of Communicating ©