Eye Contact and Audience Engagement in Training

Have you ever tried to maintain a conversation with someone who is looking away from you? Nearly impossible, right? The moment eye contact is broken, the flow of the conversation is broken as well, with resultant audience disconnect.

Try it out and see! In pairs try to talk to the other when they are looking at you at first, and let them look away from you in the middle of the conversation. The moment the person you are talking to looks away, the conversation breaks. You may be able to pick it up and carry on, but the break at the point the other person looks away is unmistakable!

To sustain a conversation, we need eye contact with our audience. It is through eye contact that we forge deeper connection with the participants. This fosters deeper audience engagement, which in turn increases training effectiveness. When the participants are engaged, there is less likelihood of them getting distracted, zooming away, fidgeting, having side conversations, or just wandering off.

Using eye contact to foster audience engagement is one of the non-verbal techniques that a training facilitator can employ to increase training effectiveness. Though training facilitation is largely a verbal enterprise, it lends its effectiveness to employment of non-verbal techniques inducing use of eye contact for audience engagement:

  • Use eye contact in a non-threatening manner
  • Avoid fixating on one person in the audience
  • Give equal coverage to the whole room
  • Shift eye contact to include all of your audience
  • Let your eye contact convey genuine interest with your audience
  • Be pleasant while you are at it

So engage with your participants at a deeper level, in a more meaningful way, in a non-threatening manner that conveys genuine interest with your audience by effective use of eye contact in training facilitation.

About the author

Joiline Gorlova is a Training Consultant at Rock Lilly with a BSc Sociology, postgrad Diploma in Personnel Management, IPM professional member & an Accredited Assessor/Moderator with Services SETA, LGSETA & ETDP SETA

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