Apr 18, 2009

How do you make eye contact with the audience?

You make presentations to sell, share, convince or inform a group of people. In doing so eye contact becomes important. How are you going to convince if you are shying away from making eye contact? You need to make a personal connect. Many presenters just do not worry about these things. It's time they did.

A lot has been written about the need for eye contact. Making eye contact will establish a rapport with the audience. It will tell you whether the audience is understanding or it's going over their head. Are you boring them by dragging things or are you too fast? You can also sense some anxiety in the audience and ask them to share what's bothering them. All of this will help ensure you take the audience along and achieve the objective of your presentation.

So how do you make eye contact? I remember an old trick. Choose two people at two ends of the group (in case of a large group) and occasionally looking at them so that the audience 'feels' that you are looking at them. Doesn't work anymore friends. Even if it does, it doesn't help.

Try this. Look at a member of the audience eye to eye and hold it for a few moments. Then move on and choose another person and do the same. Keep doing this every once in a while. You need not have eye contact 100% of the time.

"The idea is to make eye contact long enough for the person to feel as if you've connected with them, and to give you some sign that you've connected. May be it's a nod. May be it's a smile... Great eye contact happens when you look at individual members of the audience long enough to feel like they are responding to you."
says Joey Asher in his latest book. He further adds, "...hold eye contact for five seconds before moving on."

This kind of eye contact is easy to make provided you are not preoccupied with what you have to say next. Rehearsal and knowing your content comes first. Having rehearsed well this eye contact will make the audience feel connected and you will also be able to gauge how your presentation is going.

Do you try to establish eye contact while presenting? What techniques you use and what problems you face? Leave a comment.

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