Most of us had to stand in front of an audience to deliver a presentation at some point of our lives, and we will have to do it again someday in the future.
What’s scary is that these presentations can define our future. A bad school presentation might cause you to fail your class, a bad job presentation might cause you to get fired and a bad business presentation might bring you a bad reputation.
So by now, we already agree that performing an excellent presentation is a must. Presentations are an essential ingredient to a successful career.
If you want to make sure your presentation is excellent, you’ll need to use eye contact. Do not ever underestimate the importance of eye contact in presentations.
The importance of eye contact in presentations is tremendous. If you make a lot of eye contact with your audience during a presentation, then you’ll show them confidence, you’ll keep them concentrating and you’ll make them feel that your presentation is a one to one conversation with them.
Here are more details about each of the benefits of eye contact that were mentioned above:
You show confidence when you do eye contact with your audience
Eye contact is one of the most important actions when it comes to body language.
In this Business Insider article, a body language expert claims that eye contact is the number 1 indicator of confidence during a presentation or any other type of communication.
I believe that you don’t need to be an expert to figure this out on your own. You can immediately tell if the person in front of you is confident or not by the way they look at their audience.
If the person doing the presentation in front of you is looking to the floor or to the ceiling or to anywhere other than their audience while talking, then you can immediately feel that they are not confident enough.
Since showing confidence is a key factor when it comes to delivering a successful presentation, you’ll need to make sure you show confidence when on stage. The best way to do that is by making eye contact with your audience.
Eye contact keeps your audience’s attention
When you look someone in the eye, they feel that they are the center of attention and they listen. Direct eye contact can do wonders when it comes to delivering presentations.
The moment you look one of your audience members in their eyes is the moment they realise that they need to pay attention till the rest of the presentation because you might look at them again.
I believe that we usually hate to be caught not paying attention during a presentation or any other form of communication.
This means that if the person doing the presentation looks us in the eye, we’ll make sure to pay attention so that when it happens again, we won’t get caught not caring about the presentation.
So always make sure to look people in the eye to keep them interested in your presentation.
Eye contact transforms presentations into 1 on 1 conversations.
If you look at the audience in general without doing any direct eye contact with any of your audience members, then the audience will feel that your words may not be directed to them but to the general public.
If you decide to look in the eyes of your audience members, each one of them will feel that the words you’re speaking are directed towards them. They’ll feel that you’re having a direct conversion with them.
And it’s important to mention that If each of your audience members feels that your presentation was a 1 on 1 conversation with them, then congratulations you’ve just delivered one of your best presentations ever.
But why? One on one conversations tend to feel more personal and tend to affect us much more than conversations directed towards the general public. So by looking your audience in the eye, you’re making them care more about what you’re saying.
How should you do eye contact with your audience?
The more people you do eye contact with, the better. However, you can’t look into the eyes of every single member of your audience if your audience is huge.
What you can do is pick a handful of people from different spots in your audience and do some eye contact with them.
When you look someone in the eye, make sure that you do not keep the eye contact for so long or else it’ll become awkward and it might make them feel uncomfortable especially if they were an introvert.
Also it would be better if you look people in the eye when you are saying something important or when you are stressing your words instead of when just saying general phrases.
How do you practice eye contact?
Maintaining eye contact with your audience might sound easy but in fact it is not. You want to make sure that you don’t stare a lot, you want to make sure to not get distracted and you want to make sure that you’re not doing it to only one part of your audience.
With that said, you’ll need to practice eye contact a lot.
Look at your own eyes in the mirror for 5 ~ 6 seconds, then look away, then do it again.
Practice with yourself and practice with your family and friends. If you are a shy person, you don’t need to worry because the more you do eye contact the more you’ll feel comfortable doing it.
So how do you practice? By repetition. Look into your friend’s eyes when you’re taking or listening to them, look into your family’s eyes when you’re practicing your presentation.
Keep doing it and you’ll get better.
To summarize what you have just read.
Eye contact is extremely important during presentations and it can be the defining factor of whether or not your presentation was a success. Make sure to maintain eye contact with your audience during your next presentation.