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How to Make Eye Contact

The act of sharing eye contact can be rather intense and personal. That is exactly why it can be hard to know exactly how to give proper eye contact during your speech. Some people may be pretty comfortable giving eye contact. Others are more sensitive to people looking at them directly in the eye. It can also vary due to a person's culture or background. I think anyone will agree that it's intimidating to have a room full of people staring at you. Nevertheless, public speaking requires you to at least make some eye contact.

A speaker's message will be more direct and personal if they give the right amount of eye contact to an audience. Perhaps you've experienced a time when a speaker read completely from their notes or a PowerPoint while giving no direct eye contact. You also may have experienced a speaker too shy to give direct eye contact which takes away power and authority from their delivery. In order to avoid these kind of scenarios, let's look at some ways to give deliberate eye contact.

1. You can scan with your eyes around the room. Scan purposefully across the from left to right, right to left and so forth. Move your eyes around to make contact with everybody in the room. This should be done gradually rather than in a nervous or fast paced way. Scan slowly across the room.

2. Try splitting the room into three parts. Imagine the room is in three different sections so you can attempt to direct your eye contact towards each section of the room during different points of your speech.

3. Pick friendly faces to direct your eye contact towards. Choose people you know, people attentive and reciprocating eye contact, or possibly faces that seem friendly for any reason. Direct your message to these individuals throughout your speech.

4. Look up from your notes after you make a point. You may have a lot of notes from time to time. Or perhaps you're the kind of person who doesn't feel comfortable speaking without notes yet. You can give plenty of eye contact after you make a point or when you're finishing a point. Use these pauses as an opportunity to make eye contact.

5. Look towards neutral spaces in the room. Find points between the aisles of chairs, at the back of the room, at someone's shoulder or forehead. This gives the appearance that you're engaging the audience  without the intense feelings you may get from direct eye contact with individual members of the audience. Is it cheating? Maybe a bit. But it's an effective way to seem as though you are providing eye contact and chances are that are nobody will know the difference.

Whether eye contact is something that intimidates you or not, you can use any one of these techniques to keep your audience engaged during your speech. Don't let your message be ignored. Keep the audience interested through one or all of these methods!