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In our battle for an audience’s attention, eye contact acts like the presenter’s lasso, and could, if used well, be a major ally. It is truly like a lasso in the sense that you grab them one by one by their eyes and pull them into what you’re trying to converse with them about.
Nevertheless, it has 5 traps that you need to watch out for:
– The Retina Check
When we say eye-contact, we mean a subtle look in one’s eyes for a couple or a bit more seconds that makes them feel that you are speaking with them and you are giving them the attention they deserve. Beware spending too much time with one of them though, or having too deep of a look that could cause discomfort or a feeling of intrusiveness. Remember, it’s not a retina check.
– The Beauty Magnet
Another one of these traps is the beautiful face in the crowd that makes you feel like you know them from somewhere and then you spend the rest of your presentation looking at them only.
– The Familiar Face
This is an alternative to the beauty magnet, and it’s usually a friend, a colleague or anyone you know from before to whose eyes you get stuck. And again, they end up under your eye-spots and you disregard everyone else.
– The Nod
This is about the poor one who nods. What many times follows that innocent nod, is a presenter who cannot believe, in the midst of their nervousness, that someone is actually listening or paying attention. And there they are, not giving the nodder a break from their eye contact and again, forgetting about everyone else.
– The Fly
This is a trick that apparently some are trained on to get past their fear of looking people in the eyes. Someone, somewhere had maybe suggested that they skim the horizon instead. It simply doesn’t work.
So: Eye contact is a great lasso for attention when you use it well, meaning when you spread it all over your audience in a subtle way that makes them feel that you care for the attention they’re paying you.