If you want to succeed, eye contact in a presentation is extremely important.
Get it right and they will be engaged.
Get it wrong and you will lose them.
I was working with a client a few years back and our conversation went something like this.
“Remember to make eye contact with the audience early,” I said.
“Yes, of course, stop worrying – I will do this,” came the response.
Literally one minute later, the speaker forgot to make eye contact with the audience!
This is a very common problem.
Almost every speaker is aware of the importance of eye contact in a presentation.
But the majority of speakers actually have pretty weak eye contact when they deliver.
Eye contact is often described as the contract between the speaker and the audience – you need to do it at the beginning, the end and all the way through.
The theory is easy – the hard part is how to boost it in reality.
How to boost your eye contact
There are many ways to improve your eye contact in a presentation.
This is something we work on every day with clients at Speak With Impact.
Obviously we cannot cover all our strategies and techniques in a single article, so will focus on just one.
I call this the Sean Dyche approach, after quote I read from him last year.
(I have used this technique for many years – long before reading the quote – but I sort of like the tagline.)
Here is the quote:
“You train how you play, how can you train how you play if you have 14 snoods on, 15 hats and leggings, no shin pads, white socks, it’s not relevant.”
(Sean Dyche is the manager of Everton Football Club and had recently banned snoods and hats from the club’s training sessions.)
This is the critical part of the quote – you train how you play.
How do we apply this motto at Speak With Impact when it comes to eye contact?
We apply it during rehearsals for a presentation.
Too many people rehearse on their own or in front of one other person.
They do not deliver it with 100% effort in rehearsal because (in their mind) it is just a rehearsal.
This means they become conditioned to giving the presentation without making eye contact (if alone) or with minimal eye contact (with one other person who usually sits close to them in the room).
In many cases, the speaker is attempting eye contact in a presentation for the first time when they do it for real.
Now the ideal scenario is to rehearse in front of a room full of people but clearly that is almost never going to be a practical option.
The workable compromise is to encourage a few colleagues to observe at least one of your rehearsals.
Instead of sitting them together, get them to disperse around the room.
Now give the rehearsal 100% in terms of delivery.
You will need to make eye contact with various people, across various parts of the room.
This well help you to get conditioned to giving eye contact for that presentation.
Ask for feedback on the presentation and specifically on your eye contact.
Action the feedback.
If you become effective at this in rehearsal, you are more likely to succeed in the real thing.
In short, you will train how you play.
To get a handy reminder of this technique, click below for a free SketchNote https://www.speakwithimpact.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Boost-Your-Eye-Contact.pdf