5 Myths Of Eye Contact
Have you heard all sorts of methods to use eye contact with your audience? I certainly have and boy, what doozies. Yet they all forget that Eyes are the window to the soul.
Most have to do with appearing to make the speakers role a bit easier. There are many myths circulating about how to use your eye contact when giving your presentations. Most are to be taken with a grain of salt.
- I’ve been told to look just over the heads of the audience, they won’t know any difference and you won’t be put off by someone looking at you a bit funny. The audience will think you are looking at them and you won’t be distracted.
- The sweep method is another. Again, I’ve been advised that its best to sweep over the audience and not make contact with anyone – if you sweep over them they will be pleased that you are trying to look at all of them. More rubbish.
- This next one has 3 varieties. Look at their forehead, eyebrow or ear you are so close to looking at their eyes they will be connected immediately. However even that close to the eye won’t ever be the same as eye to eye contact.
- This is a good one and is of some benefit for beginners. Only look at your friends or people you nave met before your talk this way you are comfortable with your eye contact and assured you will get a good reception.
- This could be an interesting one to try. Hold your gaze on a person until you have finished your sentence or point then move to someone else for your next sentence or point. WOW! Some sentences are long and some points are even longer that may be a little intimidating for your audience and difficult for you staring at someone who isn’t game to look back.
Before I give my suggestion can I ask you to try out the above next time you are at a party or having coffee with a friend and see what reactions you get from your friends. Theirs and your reactions could be quite funny or scary or confusing or weird. Particularly the ones where you don’t look them in the eyes.
Did you try it out? How did you go? Have you still got all your friends? :^) I hope you do and I hope you now understand the point of the exercise.
How To Use Your Eyes
Direct eye to eye contact is an extremely valuable tool – it creates engagement, it shows sincerity, it promotes trust it captures attention. The litmus test is what would work for you in an audience would probably work for most others.
Look at them in the eyes when you are talking to them, at the same time consider different ethnic backgrounds, different personalities and the many other different traits people have. You use your normal sensitivities – if someone looks away the minute you look into their eyes then simply give them warm glances. If a friend is in your audience and they can hold your gaze then a few seconds is fine.
Most westerners are good for a slightly prolonged eye to eye contact. I have a gauge that I use. It is, I look into a persons eyes either until they start to look away or until I recognise the colour of their Iris then I may linger a bit before moving to another person. Remembering that even very short good direct eye to eye contact is far better than none or too much so be prepared to experiment. Experiment on stage and off, it is about developing your skill with different people
Obviously this is slightly different with a large audience, my vision isn’t that good to see their Iris up the back of the room so I use my experience of that time frame to move on. Possibly 2-3 seconds most. You can still look as directly into their eyes as you possibly can.
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