The Eyes Have It

(‘Communicate Confidently!’ is off to a great start in 2018 by continuing our deep dive into those delivery skills that help mask Presentation Anxiety symptoms, while projecting confidence, credibility and competency. This month, we dive into Eye Contact.)

If I could only enhance one delivery skill with my executive coaching clients it would be to help them maximize their eye contact. Properly done, it produces several positive results for your audience and for you. Nothing says more about your credibility, power and confidence than what you do – and don’t do – with your eyes. Your eyes … the mirror of your soul. Everything else is a ‘B’ priority.

Old Habits

First, we need to identify and overcome some bad habits. Many of us were taught to simply scan the faces in a room when delivering a presentation.  Unfortunately, scanning results in your visual over-stimulation, increases nervousness and makes it harder to think clearly As a result, you forget your message at times and utter vocalized pauses – ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.

Those people who are uncomfortable looking directly into the eyes of audience members sometimes try to look at their shoulders or, even worse, try to stare at a spot high on the back wall. Either practice projects lack of confidence and, often, lack of credibility.

Control Your Eyes

Our Best-in-Class strategy goes beyond simple eye contact to Eye Control – you control where your eyes go and for how long. Look at one person at a time for a complete thought, 8 – 10 seconds or one or two short sentences. Then, move in silence to a new person in a random manner. During your silent move, take a breath and think of what to say next. Eye Control can significantly reduce your vocalized pauses.

Because this technique helps you control the amount of visual input going to your brain, it helps reduce nervousness and interference with clear thinking. Eye Control also reduces the stress that comes from speaking to a large audience, because it creates the illusion that you’re talking to one person at a time.

You Win – They Win

Properly done, it makes it easier for the audience to pay attention because it seems like you’re talking with each of them in turn. It also slows down your delivery pace – another good thing. The Eye Control Mantra is ‘Only talk to faces!’ If you need to look at your notes or the screen to remember what to say next, that’s fine. Just do so in silence.

 

Since Eye Control may be different from what you were originally taught, it takes some time to get comfortable with it. With some practice, it will become more natural and you’ll be surprised at the results: engaging the audience, projecting more confidence to mask any PA symptoms, decreasing stress, decreasing vocalized pauses and slowing down your delivery. Wow … all that from one simple tactic!

Now you know why it is the most important delivery skill.

 

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  • Simply put, Phil lives and breathes communication … it’s what he teaches, it’s what he understands, and it’s what he has made his passion. Jeff Nischwitz, PresidentThink Again Coaching
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