Imagine watching a speaker who has wonderful words of advice, encouragement, experience and/or success and that speaker never once looks in your direction – in fact, that speaker never acknowledges you or anyone filling those seats to hear his/her wonderful words. Does that happen? More often than you may think.

I have seen, as well as worked with, many people who have strong delivery skills but are lacking in one particular area. They are unable to make eye contact with their audience. Now admittedly, if you are speaking to a hundred people or more, you will not be able to look at each and every individual but you are able to acknowledge each and every section of the room. In doing, those in that particular section will think you are looking directly at them.

It goes further than that, however. Making eye contact with your audience means talking to your audience and that can only occur when you recognize how your audience is reacting to your words. Looking over the heads of your listeners is not making eye contact with them. If that happens, then you are not communicating with your audience but are instead talking at them.

The beauty of public speaking is understanding that your message is a form of oral communication. You audience’s response to you is part and parcel of that communication. If they do not react, be it with a smile, a frown, or the nodding or shaking of their heads – if they are not booing, applauding, laughing or even groaning, then your message is not being heard. If your message is not being heard, then your purpose for speaking is pointless.

Part of good public speaking is building a rapport with your audience, establishing trust, credibility, and integrity with those who have gone out of their way to listen to you. Without eye contact, you cannot build that trust, you cannot justify integrity because you are not communicating. Acknowledging their feelings in respect to what you are saying is the value of why you are speaking. Whatever your success, it can only be recognized when you are aware of their response to your words.

What is fascinating about making eye contact is that it is one of the most important things you can do to control your nervousness because you will be treating your audience just as if you were having a conversation in your living room. And, that is good communication. If you are not making eye contact when you speak, try it next time. You will be amazed at how much better you feel as well as your audience!

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels is President of Voice Dynamic as well as Selfgrowth's Official Guide to Public Speaking. Holding private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills, she also offers Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement.

For more information on voice and presentation skills, click here for her 4-minute presentation, The 5 Characteristics of Dynamic Public Speakers

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