One of the ways that you engage your audience is through eye contact. But when you have a large audience, how do you do that? Here are a few tricks I’ve learned:
Select a handful of people sprinkled throughout the room and maintain eye contact with them. Don’t stare at one person too long, or you could make that person feel uncomfortable and alienate the rest of the audience. Move from one selected person to the other, keeping eye contact with each one for a moment or two, then moving on.
The beauty of this tactic is that people who are sitting near those selected individuals will often feel that you are looking that them. This is especially true the farther these people are from the stage.
If looking these people in the eyes makes you nervous or uncomfortable there are a couple of things you can do. First, don’t think of your presentation as a speech in front of an audience. Think of it as a conversation with a few of your friends. Do you get nervous or uncomfortable talking with a group of your friends? Of course not … and this isn’t much different.
Second, you can look at a point on the person’s face that is near the eyes, such as the bridge of their nose. This gives the person the feeling like you’re looking into their eyes, but you can feel more comfortable.
Remember, for each person in your audience, he or she is experiencing your presentation alone. To him or her, it is not much different than a one-on-one conversation. Maintaining eye contact with your audience effectively helps bolster this impression and can make your presentation more compelling and effective.
What is your biggest challenge around giving presentations?
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