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. Eye contact is a key ingredient for effective audience engagement.
Importance of Eye Contact in Audience Engagement
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 effectiveness. When the participants are engaged, they are less likely to get distracted, zoom away, fidget, have side conversations, or just wander away.
Tips for Effective Use of Eye Contact
Using eye contact to foster audience engagement is one of the non-verbal techniques that a presenter can employ to increase effectiveness. Though presentation is largely a verbal enterprise, it lends its effectiveness to employment of non-verbal techniques including eye contact for audience engagement. Here are some tips for effective use of eye contact in speaking events.
- 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, non-threatening manner that conveys genuine interest with your audience by effective use of eye contact!