Presentation Eye Contact
The importance of eye contact to engaging presentations
An engaging presentation starts with an engaged audience - and eye contact is a vital part of this. This vital connection can give the presenter immediate feedback from the audience; are they listening, excited, interested or bored. With good presentation preparation you'll deliver an engaging presentation and be prepared to close that important sale.
While you scan the faces of your audience during your presentation, you may feel they have begun to engage with you. At this point the audience become encouraged to connect with you and provide feedback such as subtle nods or frowns. This allows your audience to transform from passive receivers to active participants, giving the presentation a more conversational atmosphere. Keep track of additional signals the audience may be sending you. Address any sceptical listeners with evidence and data to back up your presentation to ensure that any unconvinced listeners leave satisfied.
Eye contact is so important that it is worth while devising a specific plan for it - here are some guidelines.
Tips for devising a good presentation eye contact plan
- By dividing your presentation space into around 6 equal segments, you can devise a plan for how your eyes will move between each segment. The most basic concept is in a diagonal manner.
- Picking a face in each segment to focus on for around 3-5 seconds will make you concentrate and become less nervous. It can also slow down your presentation and make you sound more presidential.
- Looking people in the eye conveys confidence and belief in what you are saying. The audience is also more likely to listen to you and buy into what you are saying.
- However, while it is true that eye contact is a universal communication tool, be careful to respect those who may feel uncomfortable with the eye contact by looking away from you. This could be a cultural issue so spend less time focusing on them in particular, but don't ignore them completely.
- Practise does in fact make perfect and by preparing your presentation to incorporate eye contact with the audience from the beginning, it can have a hugely positive outcome. However, a lack of presentation eye contact preparation can damage a well written and presented pitch, leaving you back at square one.
To learn more about presentation eye contact, check out our free Smart Sheet on how to use the shape and size of your venue to devise an effective presentation eye contact plan.