As a presenter, using your eyes to engage your audience is critical to creating a sense of confidence, establishing credibility, and building rapport. So, what can you do to make your next presentation an eye-opening experience? Consider these 10 tips to elevate the effectiveness of your next presentation.
TIP #1: GREET YOUR LISTENERS AS THEY GATHER
Before the meeting or event even begins, an initial greeting with direct eye contact helps build rapport, turning strangers into friends.
TIP #2: START AND END WITH DIRECT EYE CONTACT
Once you’re introduced — but before you say a word — stop, look out at your audience directly, and smile. End your remarks by looking out, scanning the audience, and smiling.
TIP #3: DIVIDE THE ROOM INTO SECTIONS
Make sure to give each section of the room equal time and energy. Look to the left side for a few seconds, then the middle, then the right. Don’t neglect the people in the back!
Hint: When looking at the back of a large room, it makes more sense to focus on a section or a head in the distance rather than trying to make direct eye contact with someone far away.
TIP #4: LOOK FOR FRIENDLY FACES
To build confidence, initially make eye contact with people who are smiling, nodding, and showing support for you and your message.
TIP #5: USE THE 3-SECOND RULE
Hold eye contact with a person for 3 seconds at a time. Have direct eye contact with a number of people in the audience.
TIP #6: MAINTAIN DIRECT, ROVING, CONTINUOUS EYE CONTACT
Sweep your gaze across the audience, remembering to engage with people at the very back and far sides as well as those in the front. The rule of thumb is 90% direct, roving continuous eye contact.
TIP #7: BE EASY ON THE EYES
Have sincere eye contact, but careful not to drill holes through people.
TIP #8: SPEAK TO THE EYES
Avoid speaking to your notes, slides, flip chart, ceiling, and the back wall.
TIP #9: USE YOUR EYES TO READ YOUR AUDIENCE
Remember, a presentation is more than a one-way communication; it’s a dialogue with your audience. As you scan the audience, they are communicating with their eyes, their body language and their facial expressions. Take advantage of this non-verbal communication and adjust your delivery accordingly.
TIP #10: BE SENSITIVE TO CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
In the United States, eye contact communicates confidence, credibility and connection. People from Arab countries use prolonged eye contact to gauge trustworthiness. However, in some countries, direct eye contact is seen as challenging and rude. For example, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, people avoid direct eye contact as a sign of respect. It will be worth your while to know this about your audience ahead of time.