The Value of Eye Contact in Public Speaking

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they were staring at their shoes, or up in the sky? They seemed to be looking every where else but at you. How did that make you feel? What conclusions did you draw from their actions?

If you thought that the person was nervous, or shady, or that they were lying or that they lacked confidence you could be right. Eye contact communicates. It tells people many things about you—your job is to determine what you want your eyes to communicate.

What can eye contact tell people?

Effective eye contact can tell people that you:

  • You are confident
  • You are truthful
  • You believe what you are saying
  • You feel comfortable
  • You respect them

But if you have poor eye contact it will communicate the opposite to the person you are speaking to. Effective eye contact is not staring at a person. It is looking at a person in a natural and relaxed manner—which will not cause the person you are looking at to feel uncomfortable.

What can I do if I have poor eye contact?

If you realize that you have ineffective eye contact you can work on improving it by practicing to look at people when you speak to them. You can also practice with your mirror as you carry on a conversation or with a friend or relative—with whom you feel safe—role play.

As a public speaker, you want to appear confident and knowledgeable—one way of doing this is to have healthy eye contact skills. You want your audience to trust you and looking them in the eye will help you to achieve your goal.


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Written by Michelle Dyett-Welcome on July 31, 2009

One Response to “The Value of Eye Contact in Public Speaking”

  • Short article but to the point.
    Eye contact is so important and beginners should practise it from their first speech.
    The audience feel included and the speaker sees real people not just an audience who are out to get them.
    Keith Davis´s last blog ..A helping hand… My ComLuv Profile

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