Eye contact and Peanut butter? Yes, those two are related. Let me explain.

 In March of 2004, I was speaking to an audience. If you had been standing with me in the back of the room after the presentation, you would have seen a white haired, elderly lady walk up to me.
Boldly, she said, “You were looking right at me!” For a moment I was taken back because I thought she was upset! She went on, “I felt like you were looking at me the whole time. That’s ok.”
I knew I was not looking at her the whole time, because I was spreading it around.
I’ve never forgot the experience nor the lesson I learned. “Eye contact is powerful.”
As a speaker we want people to feel like we are talking to them. Not in an uncomfortable way, but in a way that connects.
How can you make people feel like you are talking right to them?
Three words. Make eye contact.
Eye contact helps connect us with the audience, keeps the audiences attention, and cements the message in the minds of the audience.
So what does eye contact have to do with peanut butter?
First, eye contact should be sticky, just like peanut butter.
Have you seen wall gazing speakers? They just look at the walls. Or how about “Stare in space” speakers. The audience is outer space and they just kind of stare out.
Unfortunately, I have done both.
We don’t want to be like that. We our eyes to stick with audience members for around 5-8 seconds. Just enough time to deliver a thought and let the member bask in the glow of our attention. They will feel like we are speaking right to them.
Don’t do it too long! We don’t want to stare them down!
Second, eye contact should be spread around-just like peanut butter.
Imagine eating a slice of whole wheat bread where all the peanut butter is crammed in one corner. 75% of the bread would taste dry and the corner would be overpowering.
Same principle applies to eye contact. Spread it around the audience. Hit the front row, the back grow, the sides, the middle, and everywhere in between.
My problem is that I sometimes have eye contact patterns that leave out part of the room. By watching video tapes of myself and being aware of how I speak, I have discovered areas of the room that I used to hardly touch.
Watch yourself on video and notice your eye patterns.
Don’t leave one part of the audience uncovered! Spread the eye contact around.
Next time you speak, keep your eye contact sticky and spread it around to all corners of the room.

 

 

 

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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