Authors and speech coaches claim:
- Eye contact will connect you with the audience
- Eye-contact will make you look confident
- Eye-Contact will help hold attention
I used to be a big proponent of emphasizing the importance of eye-contact when speaking.
I still believe that good eye-contact is crucial. However, our focus should not be on eye contact but on this principle:
Talk to one person for 3-8 seconds.
Look at someone and deliver a sentence or two. Have a mini-conversation with them for a few moments. Ignore everyone else and speak directly to them.
Speak in terms that make them feel like you are speaking directly to them. Craig Valentine says, “Speak to them like you were talking to them in a hallway.” If I met you in the hallway, I would not say “Each of you can reach your goals.” I would say, “You can reach your goals.”
Keep your voice conversational. Sometime as speakers we get into our “preacher’s voice.” Would you use this voice if you met someone in the hallway? Nope. Keep it conversational.
Several benefits of applying this principle and talking to one person for 3-8 seconds:
Benefit #1: You will make good eye-contact (Yes! This is important.)
Benefit #2: They feel like we are speaking to them, will listen better, and feel more connected.
Benefit #3: The people sitting around the person will feel like you are talking to them.
More info on how to do this in Become a Better Speaker in One Evening.
Move beyond eye-contact. Focus on talking to one person for 3-8 seconds.