How often do you think about eye contact? If you’re like most people, you often worry about the content of your speech and work, and maybe the way in which you speak, but you probably don’t put too much thought into your non-verbal communication. However, a huge amount of information is relayed using non-verbal cues. Also, people use non-verbal cues to make judgments on how they feel about you as a professional and as an individual. One of the most important of these cues, is eye contact. Eye contact is a key component of relating your message, holding your listener’s attention, and also gauging their response. Take a look at our three tips below for making eye contact work you in the workplace:
- Maintain a balance: A strong gaze is key in appearing confident and professional. If you make too little eye contact with your conversation partner, you may appear unsure of yourself or worse, insincere, since many people have trouble making eye contact while lying. However, if your eye contact is too strong, you may make your listener uncomfortable. A good rule of thumb is to maintain eye contact for approximately 4-5 seconds, about the time it takes to complete a sentence or thought, and then briefly shift your gaze to the side, then immediately back to your listener.
- Practice makes perfect: If you’re uncomfortable maintaining eye contact at first, try shifting your gaze to different areas of a person’s face to avoid overly intense eye contact. Focus on one eye for a second or two, then shift your gaze to the other eye for a couple of seconds, and finally to the person’s mouth. After that, break your gaze briefly by shifting it to the side, and then to the person’s eyes once again. Eventually, with some practice, you will be more comfortable with natural, sustained eye contact, and will be able to abandon this routine.
- Eye contact can make a presentation: Eye contact is key in public speaking. When speaking to a group, make sure to make eye contact with different people throughout the crowd. It’s common for speakers to only make eye contact with people in the first row, people they know, or people with friendly faces who seem to be the most receptive to their message. However, making eye contact with people in different parts of the crowd and people who seem the least interested, can go a long way towards drawing the whole audience into your presentation and making sure your message is received.
Want to learn more? Check out our book, Talking Business: A Guide to Professional Communication, or click on the link below to hear me give more information on how to use eye contact to your advantage in professional communication:
If you have questions or are interested in improving your communication skills, give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!
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