Monday, August 8, 2011

Eye Contact: Stop Ignoring Half the Room When Presenting


When you're presenting, it's important to make eye contact with the people in your audience. Eye contact is an important element of non-verbal communication and allows you to connect with the audience, helps you keep their attention and demonstrates your confidence and sincerity.

But sometimes, you're so focused on what you're saying or your slides that you forget to make eye contact with the entire audience. Instead, you face only the center or one side of the room and ignore the other sections of the room  - which doesn't make the people in that section of the audience feel connected to you or help them understand your presentation.

Here are 5 reasons why you might be ignoring half the room:

1. You are facing your computer or the large screen onto which your slides are projected. (And in the "worst case scenario" version, you forget to make eye contact with anyone in the audience).

2. You know someone in the section of the room that you are focusing on. 

3. You are getting positive feedback (nodding, smiling) from someone in that section of the room.

4. You believe, whether accurately or not, that someone in that section of the room is the most important person (such as the CEO or the decision maker).

5. You're just not aware where you are looking.

Instead of falling prey to these 5 reasons for ignoring half the room, make a conscious effort to make eye contact with everyone in the audience. You can practice by asking people for feedback, especially those who sat on the extreme sides of the room or in the front row.

And if there are too many people in the audience to make eye contact with every individual, be sure to make eye contact at least with every section of the audience.

For more information on how to avoid facing the screen when presenting, see my blog post, Don't Present to the Screen.

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com

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