Thursday, September 6, 2012

Connect with Your Audience through Eye Contact

Building trust with your audience, even if it is one person, is crucial. Whether the conversation is informative, instructional, inspirational or persuasive, it means nothing without a level of trust.  No, they don’t need to trust you with their life; however, trust that what you have to say is accurate, well researched and that you are an authority on the topic.

A presenter will often get so caught up in what he has to say that he loses his connection with his audience and in turn loses their trust. Making that individual bond with your audience through eye contact will give them confidence in your presentation.  

You may not realize it, but even if you saw only the eyes of a person, you could tell a lot about their mood.  Whether romantic, angry, sad, happy; it will all show through the eyes.

Eye Contact Showing Happiness/Affection

Eye Contact Showing Anger or Suspicion

It is easy to just periodically scan the room with your eyes but then you are just going through the motions.  Avoid looking systemically at one person next to the other.  Mix it up and try to connect randomly with a person for a couple of seconds. Watch for their reaction with a facial expression.  If someone looks visibly uncomfortably with your eye contact, then avoid them to ease any tension and move on. Eye contact is viewed differently in various cultures and some folks just are not comfortable with it.  This is no reflection on your presentation.  When you do make that relation with an audience member, you as a presenter can embrace that energy to bring your public speaking to a new and greater level.

Practice with family and friends and get their feedback. For some presenters, this may feel overwhelming by adding another element to their public speaking; but with practice it will become natural and the audience will be compelled to come with you on your presentation journey.  You will not only build trust with your audience but confidence in yourself.

This important element of presenting with individual eye contact can truly change the way you are viewed by your audience.  They will look forward to hearing you speak again and knowing that you are sharing important information with them as oppose to just being a vehicle for the words. Embrace your audience and tell the story that needs to be told.

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