In my Presentation Skill training and coaching engagements, I regularly recommend holding eye contact on one person at a time for 8 – 10 seconds or to complete a thought. Then, moving to a new person in silence in a random pattern. After reading one of my articles on this topic, a reader asked why I recommend that technique.
The essence of my response:
- Don’t be predictable with your eye contact. And don’t think about it too much. You have more important things on your mind.
- If you go around the room in order, it looks odd and the people at the ‘end of the line’ will become disengaged and distracted. Work all parts of the audience equally, but randomly.
- When you’re in that typical long, narrow boardroom setting at one end of the long rectangular table, avoid the temptation to alternate between the left and the right side. This ‘pendulum effect’ can also become distracting for the audience, even comical.
So, strive for random, natural and non-distracting eye contact. Your audience will appreciate your efforts.