It’s often said that the eyes are “the windows to the soul,” and it makes sense considering that the way we make eye contact speaks volumes about how we feel about ourselves, and others. If you’re looking to improve your communication skills, I encourage you to pay attention to your eye contact – how you’re directing your gaze – when speaking or listening one on one, in a group or, when making a presentation. Here are three important reasons why:
- Connecting eye-to-eye helps foster concentration. If your eyes are wandering, you could find yourself more easily distracted/ less focused on your conversation or speech/ presentation.
- When you look someone in the eye, they’re more likely to look at you, and in turn, more likely to engage with you and buy your message. Lack of eye connection may cause the listener’s thoughts to wander away from you and your topic.
- Sustained, focused eye contact communicates confidence, belief in your point of view, and helps you to act more assertively, whereas a lack of eye contact can make you seem less authoritative, nervous, or socially awkward.
When it comes to presentations, some of my coaching clients have wondered how they can possibly connect eye-to-eye with every single member of their audience. Having been on the speaking circuit for several years, I advise clients to focus on specific people from one side of the audience to the other. In my experience, when you truly connect eye-to-eye with this handful of people, scattered throughout the group, you, in effect, are connecting with the audience as a whole.
Eye contact plays an important role in how successful we become socially and in business. New ideas are conveyed, friendships are formed, and jobs are landed based on how adept we are with our eye contact. How and where you direct your gaze can make or break first impressions, so keep in mind – when honing your communication skills – the eyes have it!