Making good eye contact with the entire audience is the essence of building rapport during your presentation. It takes a lot of practice to make it look natural, and requires you to know your presentation well. Looking at notes too much, or even gazing upwards for inspiration can be very destructive to your audience’s attention and engagement. I’ve discovered these three great tips for establishing and holding eye contact during a presentation.
3 great tips for establishing and holding excellent eye contact with your audience during a presentation.
1) Position – Place yourself in the best spot to address the whole audience. Usually, you want to stand near the center of the stage or as close as possible. Right-handed people have a tendency to veer left when walking, and they do the same when addressing an audience. So quite often, the “other half” of the audience gets almost completely ignored, sometimes this is very pronounced. You can “work the room” to engage the whole audience by standing in the same place and turning slightly to the right and the left. Hold each direction until you complete your thought, and then move to the section. In wide rooms or on a stage, pick three locations (stations) to stand (center, left, and right). Use your natural movements at an even and unnoticeable pace to walk from station to station to cover both sides of the room equally.
2) Make Eye Contact with Everyone – People notice when you aren’t looking at them or when you are looking at the back corner. The solution is simple–look at them. Randomly select people to hold eye contact for a few seconds and then move on. Any more than a few seconds at a time and your eye contact becomes overbearing and uncomfortable. Don’t give anyone special favor with your eyes (unless you’re addressing them directly for a moment in your speech). Eye contact has a halo effect. When you look at one person, the people surrounding that person (up to 10 feet away) feel that you are looking at them. This way you do not need to look directly at every individual, and you can focus on groups of people.
Also, eye contact is easier to make when you are talking to people you know instead of strangers. Arrive early for your presentation and meet some new acquaintances.
3) Know Your Script – Rehearse your material enough times that you can craft unique words that day. Glancing down at a script every so often can break the conversation between speaker and audience. Also, most presenters fill the void when they do not know what to say next with filler words. It may seem obvious; you can’t make eye contract when you turn around and read the screen. Your eye direction causes your audience to engage the screen instead of you.
Practice your presentation with an audience. Grab some co-workers and friends to practice with to ensure you’re making eye contact. This practice will also make it easier to give the actual presentation because it will feel more like practice.
- Get strategies and best practices for developing winning presentations by downloading one of my presentation ebooks.
- Master winning presentations by graduating from SpeakU!
- Want even more presentation skills and tips? Follow Speak Simple on Facebook and SlideShare.
How Speak Simple Can Help You
Earn more new business with presentations, by winning proposal presentations and educating your prospective clients at conferences, workshops, and webinars. Your buyers want to learn from you, Speak Simple can show you how to maximize each opportunity and win more work with presentations.