Making eye contact with the audience during a presentation is one of the most important things you can do. It helps to engage and connect with your audience, so they don’t feel like their attention is being wasted. The benefits go beyond just connecting with your audience though: making eye contact will also improve your own confidence in public speaking and make it easier for people to follow what you are saying. This blog post will cover 10 tips that will help you improve eye contact when giving a speech or presentation!
Tip#1: Practice Your Presentation Beforehand and Memorize Key Points and Details
The first step to making great eye contact is practicing. If you haven’t given a presentation in a while, or if you’re new to public speaking, it’s important to get comfortable with making eye contact before the big day. Try standing in front of a mirror and looking yourself in the eye as you speak or even recording yourself. This will help you become more comfortable with making eye contact, correct any mistakes you are making, and will make it easier when you’re in front of an audience.
Additionally, memorizing key points and details will allow you to maintain your message without having to look down at your notecards or computer every few seconds. This is especially true of your introduction and conclusion. Having those part committed to memory will need provide invaluable in improving eye contact in your presentation.
Tip #2: Look at individuals, not groups
When giving a speech or presentation, try to look at individual people instead of groups. It can be difficult to maintain eye contact with an entire group, so focus on individuals instead. Doing this will make people feel like you are speaking directly to them and will make them more engaged in your presentation.
As a caution however, do not stare at one person for the entire presentation. Its common for a speaker to gravitate a few friendly faces in the audience and ignore the rest. Pick different audience members and make eye contact for 3 to 5 seconds and move on to someone else.
Although it can be difficult to make eye contact with every person in the audience, try to make eye contact with as many people as possible. This will create a stronger connection with your audience and they will feel like you are paying attention to them specifically.
Tip #3: Look away briefly
Don’t maintain eye contact for the entire duration of your speech or presentation. It’s important to look away occasionally, as this will help keep people interested. When you do look away, make sure to glance back at individuals rather than looking around the room.
Also, its not a sin to look down, but its important that you do give the audience the impression that you are reading your presentation or your speech from a script.
Tip #4: Use eye contact to emphasize points
When you are making a point, use eye contact to emphasize it. Doing this will help the audience remember your points and they will be more likely to take action based on what you have said.
Tip #5: Use facial expressions
Along with eye contact, using facial expressions is an important way to connect with your audience. When you smile, laugh or show other emotions, it helps to convey your message and makes the audience feel like they are part of the conversation.
Smiling is one of the best ways to maintain good eye contact when presenting because it naturally draws others’ eyes towards your face. When smiling often, everyone’s attention should remain on you and not on your slides.
If you use facial expressions, the more likely you are to look at your audience.
Take notice of the way this speaker shows confidence using exceptional eye contact and facial expressions during his presentation:
Tip #6: Avoid Eye Contact During Transitions Between Topics
Some speakers have found it helpful to pause eye contact when moving from one point to the next.
During transitions between topics, avoid making eye contact as it can break your train of thought and cause confusion in the minds of those listening. It may be helpful during that transition to pause for effect. It gives the audience time to digest what you have said and make sure they are following along with your message.
Tip #7: Maintain eye contact while moving
When you are on stage, try not to focus too much on where you’re going next (e.g., looking at the floor or notes). Instead, look directly into the audience and make eye contact with people as you move around the room. Doing this will help keep their attention focused on you regardless of what’s happening in front of them. Look for individuals that seem confused by something else so they don’t forget about you completely!
Tip #8: Avoid distractions
It’s important to avoid any distractions that can take attention away from you or your audience. This means avoiding looking at your phone, checking the time or playing with your hair or jewelry. If something does happen that distracts you, simply apologize and continue speaking.
Tip #9: Be aware of your eye contact habits
The last tip is to be aware of your own eye contact habits. Do you tend to break eye contact a lot? Are you too shy to make eye contact with people? Once you are aware of how you normally behave, the faster you can work hard to correct these habits (Tips 1-8). it will be easier to work on making better eye contact during presentations!
Online Resources to Help you Improve Your Presentation Skills
There are many online resources that can help you in all aspects of public speaking including eye contact. Please check out my article “Online Resources for Public Speaking (The Ultimate Review)” which provides a detailed review on various public speaking resources.
Do you have any additional tips to improve eye contact during presentations? Share them in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.