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The Importance of Eye Contact

A significant proportion of communication is non-verbal—up to 90% by some researchers’ estimation! This means that how you say something is often even more important than what you’re saying. One critical component of non-verbal communication is eye contact. 

Eye contact can serve a variety of purposes, from holding your listener’s attention and effectively relating your message, to gauging your audience’s response. Here are some tips on how to maximize eye contact in professional communication: 

  • How long you make eye contact for can significantly alter how your message is received. Eye contact that  lingers for too long may feel aggressive or uncomfortable, but too little eye contact may come across as nervous or untrustworthy. A good rule of thumb is to hold your listener’s gaze for about three sentences and then briefly shift your gaze before resuming eye contact.
  • The amount of eye contact you make as a listener should be slightly longer than what you would as a speaker. Shifting your gaze from one of the speaker’s eye to the other is a way to prevent staring too intensely.
  • When you do break eye contact, look up or to the side; looking downward can indicate a lack of confidence, disinterest or disrespect.
  • When speaking to a group, make eye contact with individual members of the audience for 3-5 seconds each. Make sure to make eye contact with people in different sections of the audience, so the entire group feels like they are involved.
  • Social rules about eye contact can vary across cultures. For example, many Eastern cultures consider too much eye contact to be impolite or even a sign of disrespect. When interacting with professionals from another culture, make sure to observe the behavior of those around you and follow suit.

Want to learn more? Take a look at the following video from Corporate Speech Solutions founder and president Jayne Latz:

For information on the New York Based Speech and Accent Reduction services offered by Corporate Speech Solutions please give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Not in NYC? No problem! We also provide Skype and video conferencing services.

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