Eye Contact gives others confidence when you speak
Today I want to share a tip when you are presenting your ideas – in a speech, sales presentation, leading a meeting or having a one on one discussion with someone. The tip is very simple – Make Eye Contact with Others while you speak.
While working with clients I have seen very smart people get ignored by others or question their competency due to a total lack of eye contact. The worst case is people talking with their heads down – not necessarily reading anything, just staring down while they speak – and others lose interest in listening.
I have also seen sales people talking with customers or prospects making the same mistake and then wonder why they lost the sales opportunity. In fact, I once watched a sales person so concerned about writing notes that he forgot to watch the prospect at all – missing visual signals to close or to notice a total change of interest indicated by body language. While this is not a strict presentation issue, it was a mistake on the part of the sales person for failing to make any eye contact with his prospect and the prospect noticed and lost interest in the interview.
During coaching assignments I have seen managers and key staff members totally lose a group in a meeting due to a lack of eye contact with others – including their peers and their managers.
And, I have seen total turnarounds where people have become aware of the importance of eye contact to make major progress in an hour.
There are three primary reasons that people do not make eye contact. These are as follows:
- Lack of Self-Confidence: Here the individual has a lack of confidence and is actually fearful of making eye contact with others. They have a feeling of being unworthy and lack the confidence to look people in the eye while making points during a presentation or discussion.
- Lack of Awareness: Now this one is a little different because I have found individuals who were not aware of this lack of eye contact. In some cases it was due to a belief that they needed they notes, paper or outline to be effective. Once they learned that effectiveness is more closely related to being confident in your message and looking people in the eye as they told their story – they become more effective immediately.
- Bad Habits: Closely related to the above two factors, yet, more common than expected, bad habits regarding speaking, discussions or presentations have a negative impact upon the listeners. These bad habits could have been ingrained into these people at an earlier age and then held as truths as adults. We have across found that behavioral style also impacts habits. Certain passive behavior styles naturally feel unworthy or more dependent upon others – using shyness or other excuses as the reason for a lack of eye contact during critical presentations.
If you are impacted by any of the above factors, then make an agreement with yourself to make more eye contact with others during all your interactions with others. No more looking down, up or at a piece of paper, the goal is to look others in the eye as you speak. Then watch as others listen more intently and ask good questions for clarification. You will feel better about yourself and your skills over time – if not immediately. Just develop a new habit.
If you are concerned about being able to do this on your own, contact us about coaching sessions or presentation skills training. You can call us at 901-757-4434. We look forward to helping you like we have helped others who were just like you.
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