Eye contact can make or break your communication interactions. When you sit across a person in person or in a virtual meeting, the eyes are an integral part of your communication exchanges. In conversation, the way you position your eyes can change the course of your interaction. As a result, eye contact is among the most important skills in effective communications. The good news is you can build on it and Toastmasters allows you to work on this skill.
Think about it, when you watch the news, the newsperson looks directly at the camera or if you watch a talk show, the host looks directly at the camera. Why do they do this? Because your eyes really are the window to your soul and it can help people connect with you. Now, each conversation you have with someone might not be that deep and require them to look into your soul. But, each conversation demonstrates your communication skills and how you communicate.
Effective communications is all about connecting with the person or audience you speak in front of. While the content you draft is important, the packaging part is equally important. Think about the last person that you actually listened to when they spoke. Chances are they maintained good eye contact while they spoke. The beauty of eye contact is that it makes your audience a part of your conversation, speech or presentation.
Along with the obvious benefit of keeping your audience engaged, eye contact also is a great way to exude authority. Establishing authority as a speaker directs your audience to listen to you. The moment people start paying attention to what you say, not just look at you, you have access to their interest. Let us face it, the premise of effective communications is drawing that attention and commanding that authority.
Like most aspects of communication, you can consciously build on your eye contact as well. Do you look at your audience? Do you focus on just one corner? Do you connect with your audience? The best way to answer these questions is to get direct feedback from your audience. In Toastmaster, we have the opportunity to get direct feedback on our eye contact during speeches and this can help us build on this skill by focusing on our strengths and weaknesses related specifically to eye contact amongst other things. Eye contact really can make or break your communications and being aware of your skills will help you use eye contact to your benefit.
TM Kriti Panth
Secretary, Professionals Toastmaster Club
Area O2 CGD