Have you ever started paying attention in a lecture because the lecturer made eye contact with you? Have you ever paid close attention during a meeting because your boss was looking at you?
As human beings, we function more effectively when more than one sense we have is engaged. This is why speakers who can engage their listeners both visually and auditorily tend to reach a larger audience. Eye contact can help grasp the audience and enhance the speech you are making.
An audience may consist of different kinds of people and establishing a fair amount of eye contact can help break down a few walls.
Here are 5 reasons to practice this while making a speech or telling a story
It shows that you are confident
When you present a speech before an audience, maintaining eye contact can enhance the experience of the listener, because it shows that you are prepared and you know what you are talking about. It can also make the audience believe in you a little more.
It helps characterize your speech/story
Eye contact can help convey feelings and emotions, facial gestures and eye contact can help the listener feel closer to whatever you are saying. It helps keep the listener interested and in the loop.
It creates a silent bond between the audience and the speaker
Once you’ve got this aspect of public speaking in the bag, it will become extremely easy to understand the audience and make things clear, you might even find it easier to improvise!
It helps you set a pace for your speech
Maintaining eye contact gives you access to the level of understanding of the audience and this will help you set a pace that is appropriate for the speech.
It can help your speech be more than just a monologue
A monologue is a great form of a speech, but it is very hard to connect to it because it puts forth the emotions and ideas of only one person, without taking into consideration the audience and their emotions. Eye contact can help change this aspect of your speech, you can convey emotion and expression through it, helping the listener understand better.
While it is a phenomenal aspect of public speaking, maintaining eye contact with an audience, it doesn’t matter if the audience is small or huge. Practicing in front of a mirror and making eye contact with yourself, may help the experience be a little less daunting. Many public speakers, pick a person or a point in the audience to look at and deliver their speech. This makes it easier because you become comfortable after a minute or so. If you are too nervous and jittery about the speech, you could also imagine you are in a more comfortable setting, with people you are comfortable with! This could enhance your expressions and the delivery of your speech/story. The key to nailing this aspect of public speaking, however, is practice! Practice, practice, and then practice some more! You will eventually be a great public speaker and no one will fall asleep while you are speaking! You’ll be as good as a TED speaker and the room will be buzzing with excitement every time you step up to make a speech!