Presentation Eye Contact

Use the shape and size of your venue to devise an effective presentation eye contact plan 

Presentation eye contact is important because it impacts the way you visually connect with your audience. As a presenter in the corporate arena, you will encounter three basic types of venue. Typical conference rooms tend to be either narrow-and-deep or shallow-and-wide (illustrated below, left). The third variation, typical of many business meetings and training programmes, is the horseshoe (illustrated below).

 

eye-contact-in-presentation-1.png

The important point about eye contact in your presentation is that you ought to plan for it. The plan, however, should be flexible. Any plan you create, crucially, is a plan for dealing with real people, not inanimate machinery. Presentation eye contact should seem natural. Be sure that your plan sees you ready and able to deal with changes that inevitably occur when handling real people.

You may feel that planning presentation eye contact is slightly ‘over the top’ and may result in a rather mechanical performance. It is true that good eye contact cannot disguise lack of preparation or poor content, however bad eye contact can destroy an otherwise well prepared and well executed presentation. Like most skills, the more you practice, the more natural and fluid it becomes.

Here are three steps to devising a good plan for eye contact in presentations:

Divide the auditorium into no more than six imaginary segments, as shown in the diagrams. With respect to the horseshoe, you may be able to get away with three segments – the two sides and the seats forming the back row. Whatever the overall size of the auditorium, don't be tempted to use more than six segments – you will end up confusing yourself.

The basic concept is to move from segment to segment in a diagonal manner, front to back and then back to front. The red and blue arrows in the diagrams show the outbound and return zigzag.

Each time you transit through a segment, select somebody in that segment with whom to briefly make eye contact. This will ensure that you are presenting to a collection of individuals, as opposed to a sea of faces. This will also help relieve any feeling of nervousness you may have by transferring your focus off yourself and onto the audience.

There is also a more subtle overlay that comes into play when considering presentation eye contact. A number of people, for one reason or another, can become the ‘emotional leaders’ of the audience. They are the people who may appear particularly attentive, or make additional notes, or nod knowingly or enthusiastically in sync with your comments. Presenting occasional messages directly to these people can trigger an unconscious wave of acceptance through the people around them. 


Like this page? Share it here... 

Blog

Exceptional delivery really helps the audience remember your message. Sadly, too many presentations fail through two crucial stages being skipped: 'practice' and 'rehearsal'...

A previous post explained the importance of timing to the success of your presentation. In this gives more detail on how to create a plan (and, more importantly, how to stick to it).

It's no big secret that the key to a successful presentation lies within its preparation. Having said that, many people 'leave money on the table' by neglecting this important step....

Good speakers need to be both heard and understood. Being heard is a question of volume and being understood concerns articulation - and a wine bottle cork can help you with the latter...

So you have an idea of what makes a successful presentation, but what are the things you should avoid? Here're three things you ought not to be doing...

Too many presenters spend the duration of their presentation standing in the exact same spot. By using the whole stage you have the ability to engage your audience and help them to visualise your message...

Timing is as important as content. Your pitch may be perfect, but get your timing wrong and people will remember less of your message.

How do you awaken interest in the first 90 seconds? Here are three methods you can use to grab your audience's attention.

What is it that a presenter does that makes them appear good? Here are 5 simple things to get you started...

Use these 4 failsafe tips for success when presenting with microphones...