Do others perceive you as a strong, compelling natural leader? Or someone who is timid, unprofessional or unsure of themselves? Some of the most important factors in projecting professional confidence are non-verbal, including how you meet the gaze of your listener. Learning how to make the right amount and type of eye contact will help you project confidence and leadership, engage your listener, and effectively relate your message. Check out our five tips below on how to maximize eye contact in professional communication:
- Strike the Perfect Balance: How long you make eye contact for can significantly impact 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.
- Watch your direction: When breaking eye contact, try to look to the side rather than downward. Looking down can convey a lack of confidence or disinterest in the conversation. Looking to the side breaks the intensity of extended eye contact, but in a way that is so subtle, your listener will likely not even notice.
- As a Listener: 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.
- Draw in Your Audience: When giving a presentation, use eye contact to your advantage to engage the entire audience. Throughout your presentation, make eye contact with individual members of the audience for 3-5 each, varying the sections of the audience that you are looking at in order to draw in the entire group. Making eye contact with people in different parts of the crowd can go a long way towards drawing the whole audience into your presentation and making sure your message is received.
- Cultural Differences: 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.
If you are looking to polish your communication skills be sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. For additional information call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!
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