Public speaking is usually inevitable in many careers and in academic settings. As a society, we place great importance on the ability to communicate well. Those who are able to communicate with efficacy and sincerity are more likely to enjoy promotions and other opportunities than a person who cowards in the corner when it is his time to present. In order to become an effective public speaker, you need to know how to practice public speaking. Read on for the do's and don'ts of eye contact during a speech. It's important to practice public speaking and eye contact is an important technique to master.
Eye Contact Tips & Basics
Eye contact establishes trust. You've been told this hundreds of times. It's true, but remember - everything is good only in moderation! I can usually spot a person that forces his or her self to make eye contact - awkward! You have to make it natural, or at least appear natural. Don't worry - you can learn effective eye contact skills. There are a few strategies. Here are some basic do's and don'ts to help you get started!
Scanning the Room Technique
DO Scan the room. Do not look at just one or several people. Attempt to make contact with as many people as possible.
DON'T make your eye contact and body movement robot-like. This is uncomfortable for listeners to experience.
Holding Eye Contact
DO make it natural. If someone is looking directly at you, they deserve the respect of eye contact for several seconds as you speak. Once they look away, it's time for you to move onto the next listener.
DON'T stare. You're not looking into your lover's eyes. You're looking into the eyes of fellow colleagues. Anything longer than several seconds can be construed as rather unnatural and perhaps a bit creepy, at that. Again - don't force yourself.
DO practice eye contact in the mirror. Have a conversation with yourself. Make normal eye contact and familiarize yourself with what it looks like and what it feels like.
DO practice in other social settings aside from public speaking. While passing others on the street or in the market, seek people out that are willing to make eye contact with you and practice. There are many people out there that are naturals and are constantly making eye contact with others. You'll also find there are many people that are worse off at making eye contact that you are!
Reading Notes and Eye Contact
Let's be honest. There is nothing worse than listening to a person read directly from a prepared set of notes without ever looking up. Or, looking up for fractions of a second.
DON'T be that person.
DO familiarize yourself with your notes enough so you're not treating your listeners rudely.
DO make an outline instead of writing out your speech in it's entirety. Of course, this only works if you sufficiently prepare beforehand. Outlines will essentially force you to make eye contact, because there isn't much to read off the paper!
Eye Contact Public Speaking Video
Not everyone is a natural-born public speaker and that's o.k. Remember - all of us have the ability to be effective communicators - with practice! You just need to study public speaking a bit differently as you would an educational subject or topic. Keep practicing and watching others that are excellent public speakers. Practice in the mirror; seriously. You'll get there!
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Comments on Eye Contact & Public Speaking Tips!
Tom Ware from Sydney, Australia on October 06, 2012:
Particularly liked that little video at the end. Wonderful to see there are other Hubbers out there who are into speaking to audiences.
Have to pick you up on one point: "Make eye contact with everyone in the room." This isn't possible with really big audiences. Good suggestion here comes from something I've read about in several books. Book I refer to is "There is no such things as public speaking" by Jeanette & Roy Henderson. Worth a read.
All the best with your future speaking engagements.
Deninson Mota from East Elmhurst, NY on June 10, 2012:
Really great points and excellent suggestions.
dhanshri on February 24, 2011:
I justlove this page. Thank you for telling us the importance of eye contact during the conversation with other people
Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 23, 2010:
Love this public speaking hub. I am in a storytelling club, and eye contact is so important. You have delved into the issue with all the details. Super!
Keith Davis on April 11, 2010:
Seen lots of your videos on the web.
You are doing a great job spreading the word about Public Speaking.
Eye contact is so important but not what a beginner wants to do.
I try to get new speakers into the habit of making eye contact, and it stays with them for life.
aishsebastain from IRELAND on March 07, 2010:
nice hub if ur confident u will maintain eye contact wow
haaris_1 on March 02, 2010:
Really nice and informative hub... I enjoyed it reading.......
Duchess OBlunt on February 28, 2010:
Good Hub girly_girl09. Clear ideas and good ones. I'm not much of a public speaker - except in business. I'd love to try it and make my rounds as a keynote speaker or some such, but then one would have to have something of interest to offer the audience wouldn't they? Hmmmmm Thinking cap on.
girly_girl09 (author) from United States on February 27, 2010:
You're welcome. My aunt is trying to convince me to join Toastmasters - I think I would like it as I really enjoy public speaking. Now, if only I could find the time! :D
treasuresyw from Savannah, GA on February 27, 2010:
I enjoyed the tips. I joined a public speaking club. Though I am pretty good at speaking to the public, I know that more tips and the interaction and feedback is good. Peace
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on February 27, 2010:
Great Hub! Have bookmarked. Eye contact is critical - loved your ending - practice!