Many of us are taught that when making a speech to a packed audience we should picture everyone naked. Although this usually helps with nervousness, it won’t help you with one of the most essential parts of presenting: eye contact.
Making sincere eye contact is essential when speaking, listening and responding to your audience. Looking someone in the eye while delivering a presentation will amplify the importance of your message and ensure your audience that you are a confident speaker. Avoid staring too long or intensely, and don’t forget to add a warm smile. Here are three things to remember about maintaining eye contact:
1. Know your material – To guarantee effective eye contact your eyes have to be off your note cards and onto your audience. Fumbling with index cards or reading quotes or statistics verbatim makes you look less credible. Make the extra effort while structuring your speech and gathering your information to burn it into your memory.
2. Open your eyes – Look at your audience as you speak. Do what feels natural, and what makes you feel comfortable while maintaining your focus. To sincerely connect with a small group of people make eye contact with each individual for a few seconds. If it is a large group glance at the entire audience and then move over small sections.
3. Look at people who are looking at you– It’s easiest to look at those who are responding to you, by nodding, smiling — this may be the energizing boost you need to finish your presentation on top. Remember that each person interacts with a speaker differently, so don’t let yourself get tripped up by those who avoid your eye contact.
With practice, maintaining eye contact with your audience will be easier than ever.