William Shakespeare said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Although we won’t be discussing the quote in detail today, there is something to be said about looking into the eyes of a partner or of an audience while communicating.
Looking directly into the eyes of a person communicates to them that you are not afraid to show the whole of yourself. It makes you instantly appear more honest as well as sure of yourself, whether you actually feel those things or not.
Having good eye contact with others will boost your attraction and inspire confidence in you as well as your audience, giving you a significant edge in all your communication endeavors.
Using Eye Contact Will Increase Confidence
There is nothing quite like good eye contact to inspire confidence. Focusing on a single person in the audience can help to stop stage fright by scaling down public speaking from a one-to-many to a one-on-one communication.
This can make it easier to feel surer of yourself in your communications.
Effective use of eye contact also makes you instantly appear more trustworthy to your audience. If you are making a persuasive type of speech or otherwise trying to influence someone towards a particular decision, looking at them in the eyes will instantly make you more attractive and inspire their confidence in you.
Eye Contact Makes Your Communication Powerful
Have you ever had the pleasure of having someone lock eyes with you, holding a strong gaze? It can be quite an intense and powerful scenario. This feeling of intensity is one of the reasons good eye contact is so effective in communication.
You can use a similar technique to keep control of an unruly audience in a public speaking situation. If people are talking while you are speaking, or otherwise being disruptive, you can simply stop speaking and focus on them. Eventually they will feel your gaze and turn from their communication, giving you their full attention.
This techniques works in one-on-one scenarios where there is an anxious or upset party as well. Making physical contact with a person (holding their hand, placing a hand on their shoulder, etc.) and then looking at them directly in the eyes with a caring expression can help to relieve anxiety or tension.
There are times when silence speaks volumes more than words. Use the techniques above to help give your communications a powerful edge.
How to Develop Your Eye Contact Skills
You won’t be able to reap the benefits of having good eye contact unless you are willing to become comfortable with putting the ideas into practice.
Check out the following tips on how to improve your eye contact skills below, and dazzle your audience during your next speech or communication.
Practice Looking at Your Audience’s Forehead First
If you are not quite used to looking directly into the eyes of another, as stated above, the experience can be quite intense.
To help you improve without too much discomfort, you can practice focusing your gaze right in the center of your audience’s forehead, right between the eyes.
Practicing forehead gazing will help you take a step towards the benefits above, as well as help to increase your posture and correct your body alignment while speaking.
Practice Looking Into Your Own Eyes in the Mirror
If forehead gazing is still a bit too progressive an option, try gazing into your own eyes into a mirror.
Mirror gazing has a few distinct advantages because you get the benefit of monitoring your expression as well as the rest of your body language to ensure that the message you intend is what is indeed being communicated.
To ensure success in practice, remember to relax your face and practice keeping a neutral expression as you gaze. If you are unable to do this and monitor yourself at the same time, use video recording or a trusted friend to help.
Speaking of trusted friends…
Have a Friend Monitor You and Help You
Role-play really can be one of the most effective forms of practice. There is just something about doing a thing repetitively to get used to doing it more effectively and on a regular basis.
There are several ways that you can go about having a friend assist you. Among the easiest are:
- Practice mirror gazing while your friend monitors your practice and provides feedback.
- Stand face-to-face with your friend and practice forehead gazing.
- Stand face-to-face with your friend and practice gazing into their eyes directly with a pleasant, neutral expression.
Having good eye contact is a necessary tool in the arsenal of any effective communicator. It is an integral part of positive body language in communicating.
Looking directly into another’s eyes has the positive benefit of developing an instant non-physical, non-verbal connection (even with strangers), where previously there was none.
Become more effective in everyday communication by practicing eye the contact skills. These are not just exercises to be used to influence an audience; you can become a master over all communication—from talking everyday with your family to on-the-job communications.
If you can devote a few minutes to practice each day, you too can become skilled at the art of good eye contact.
Eye contact, when wielded properly, is like a magic wand that can be used in any situation where effective communication is needed.