Look 'Em in the Eyes: The Real Power of Eye ContactWritten by Debbie Bailey
"At that moment when our eyes are locked in silent communication, we are, in essence, touching." -Debbie Bailey Besides touch (not really an option in a presentation setting), eye contact is most powerful and personal of all of presentation delivery cues. When you look an audience member in eyes, for those few seconds, you are talking directly to him/her. Why is eye contact so powerful? Good eye contact cuts physical distance in half, helps you connect with your audience on a personal level, invites audience members to participate in your presentation (if I look at you long enough you WILL talk), enables you to gauge your audience's reaction to your presentation, stops hecklers from pestering you, and so much more.
The fact is, when you look someone directly in eyes, it is as if you are standing much closer to him/her. In a presentation setting, close is good. The closer you are, more immediate you are, thus harder you are to ignore. Think about it from audience's perspective-it is much easier to tune out a presenter who is farther away from you (I can't see you, you can't see me). Because audience members seated closest to you will have best experience anyway, use your good eye contact to move yourself physically closer to audience members seated in back of room.
Your eye contact also provides you with valuable feedback about how audience is receiving your message. Approval, confusion, excitement, hostility, frustration, and many other emotions are all expressed through your audience's body language. Eye contact will help you read and react to silent messages your audience is sending you about their understanding, their likes, and their dislikes so you can determine what to reinforce, review, hurry through, etc.
There is definitely an art to making good, strong eye contact. The best eye contact is direct and sustained-lasting 4 to 5 seconds per audience member. That is MUCH longer than most people think. In fact, inexperienced presenters often make mistake of glancing quickly around room without holding eye contact for any length of time. Their eye contact appears to bounce from person to person.
Instead, look at each audience member until you see him/her silently acknowledge you before moving on to someone else. This will help you forge a much greater connection with each individual in your audience.
Be aware that most presenters show eye contact favoritism. This means that they look at certain people in audience more than others. Research indicates that we tend to look at audience members who give us most positive feedback and also people with most authority (i.e. CEO in room). While it is confirming to look at people who are enjoying our presentation ("they like me they really do"), make it a point to look at everyone as equally as possible. Audience members who don't feel that you are talking to them (as demonstrated by your lack of eye contact) will have tendency to tune out. And as for looking at people in power, remember, they are watching you to see how you treat others in their organization. The best way to demonstrate your fairness and respect is through eye contact equality.
5 Presentation Secrets That Will Change Your LifeWritten by Debbie Bailey
You've been asked to give an important presentation. A lot is riding on how well you can deliver. The problem is, you're not sure where to begin. The last class you took on presentation skills told you to tie your hands behind your back and blend in with everyone else. Is that really a good approach?
The answer is a LOUD and RESONATING NO WAY. If you want to WOW your audience, you have to STAND UP and STAND OUT!
Here are 5 Presentation Secrets designed to help you see an immediate and dramatic improvement in your presentation performance.
Secret #1 - Manage Your Anxiety So That It Doesn't Manage YOU! Most of nervous symptoms you experience before a presentation are exactly same as those you feel when excited. To body adrenaline is very simply-ENERGY. If we call it energy or excitement it is good, if we call it anxiety, it is bad. The first step toward successfully managing your anxiety is to remove negative label and rename that feeling you have right before you step up to podium, EXCITEMENT. Tell yourself that you are excited about opportunity to speak in front of this group. "Excitement" is a much more manageable and positive emotion than "anxiety." Then use your excitement to energize you and help you communicate your enthusiasm to your audience.
Secret #2 - When It Comes To Your Delivery Style, Be More Of Who You Really Are! Everyone has their own innate "style" of presenting. Your style is made up of many different aspects of your delivery, including your body, voice, face, way you use language, level of formality, etc. The trick, within your style, is to be more of who you really are, which means knowing and then capitalizing on your greatest delivery strengths.
Many presenters focus too much attention on their words. With words only accounting for 7% of your power as a presenter, spending too much energy on words alone is a big mistake. Your nonverbal delivery style-also called your presentation personality--accounts for 97% of your power as a presenter. To improve your chances for success, focus on real source of your power-your nonverbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, movement, proximity, clothing, vocal variety, rate, loudness, and silent pauses.
Secret #3 - Give Audience All Enthusiasm You Want Back! You can't expect an audience to be enthusiastic about a product or program you aren't excited about. Presentation author Doug Staneart concluded, "Your audience will have just about as much excitement about your presentation as you do, and no more." Enthusiasm is very catchy. Most audiences will match your level of enthusiasm pound for pound.
According to Lamalle Report on Top Executives of 1990s, one of most important factors in determining financial success by those earning over $250,000 is being enthusiastic and having a positive attitude (46%). Apparently, along with being incredibly enthusiastic, successful people never underestimate power of positive thinking.
Why does having a positive attitude matter so much? Research solidly indicates that expectations influence behavior meaning if you expect to succeed, it is likely that you will and if you expect to fail, you are more likely to be unsuccessful. Expectations create outcomes because we work toward outcome we expect, even if it is failure. Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't--you are right."
Enthusiasm has amazing ransformational powers. As you release your energy using positive nonverbal behaviors (gestures, movement, loud voice, etc.), you will begin to relax. And, your audience will quickly become excited. It works like magic! Watch how easily you can transfer your enthusiasm to your audience.