Giving a presentation is a nerve wracking experience. Oftentimes people become so uncomfortable and anxious that they don’t even know where to stand or what to do with their hands during the presentation…but what about their eyes? Where should you look during a presentation? Many people find it frightening to look directly at the audience. Instead they focus on the back wall above the audience’s eyes or they look down at their notes. Unfortunately, this diverted eye contact will not help a presenter’s delivery. Rather, it is important for the presenter to discover ways to effectively make eye contact during the presentation.
Create a Sense of Honesty
Eye contact is essential to create a personal connection with the audience. When people look away or down at the podium, it creates a sense of nervousness and insecurity. The speaker will appear less confident, competent, and they will lose credibility with the audience. On the other hand, when a speaker makes direct eye contact with audience members, it conveys confidence and trustworthiness. Therefore, speakers should look directly into the eyes of audience members at various times through the presentation to create a sense of sincerity and honesty.
Think of Your Eyes as a Spotlight
It is not necessary to stare directly at one or two people throughout your entire presentation. Instead, let your eyes scan over the crowd like a spotlight. From time to time, focus on different parts of the audience. Spend a few seconds looking at the people on the right, and then in the middle, and then move to the left side of the audience. You want to make eye contact at some point with everyone in the audience. This makes each person feel like an important part of the presentation and helps make the presentation more personal.
Focus on Individual Audience Members
There are times in your presentation when you can simply scan the crowd but there are also times when you should choose a specific audience member and make direct eye contact with them. You should do this at various times throughout your presentation and maintain that individual eye contact for a few seconds. This allows you to really connect with your audience and make them feel like they are truly a part of your presentation.
It’s Ok to Look Away from Time to Time
Looking away from your audience once in a while during your presentation isn’t a bad thing. You do not have to look directly at them for 100% of the presentation. It is perfectly acceptable to glance down at your notes or look at the screen you are referencing. It is also ok to take a sip of water, pick up a prop, or gather your thoughts for a moment. The key to good eye contact is remembering that most of the time your eyes should be focused on your audience.