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Implementing Effective Eye Contact

Eye contact is everything

Audiences pay close attention to your body language and facial expressions. Therefore, you should aim to provide them with a sense of trust, friendliness, and candour, and not come off dominant, overpowering, or distrustful.

When speaking to others, you should not avert your eyes by looking at the ceiling, floor, or walls, for example. You should, in fact, maintain eye contact at all times.

Eye contact is a form of body language, and is important during communication. 55% of communication is nonverbal with our eyes telling much about us and how we communicate than we think they do.

The old adage is ‘eyes are a reflection of your inner self.’ When you withhold eye-contact in your communications, whether as part of a friendly conversation, a lecture, speech, or even an interview, it may indicate that you are fearful, anxious, have trust issues, bored, or a combination of them.

Notice how video news releases that feature interviews, speeches, or events emphasise eye contact. Look no further for evidence than the choice of the camera operators and directors to take close-ups of speakers’ faces, and when their speech becomes heated, confrontational, or enthused, the focus will shift to their eyes; This helps establish a relation between the speaker and the audiences at home.

But can maintaining eye contact be deciphered differently? Are there layers to the act that takes place on a subconscious level?

Implementing effective eye contact

Here are some tips on implementing effective eye contact without ‘over-doing it.’

  • Eye contact is considered as one of the, if not the best, means of communication. By establishing effective eye contact, you are communicating that you are a good listener by expressing care and paying attention.
  • When people talk or listen, they tend to detect quick and sudden movements. Hence, varied eye movements, especially during one-on-one conversations, reveals a lack of interest or boredom in the subject matter. Avoid consistently averting your eyes if you want an effective and productive conversation.
  • The eyes say it all: they are a means of building a connection with someone and showing that you feel comfortable talking to them.
  • Maintain eye contact with everyone in the room. Do not focus on just one or a few individuals when talking to a group as it will suggest that you are selective with whom you trust or who you want the message to reach.
  • Don’t over-do it: in any form of communication, do not keep eye contact with a single person all the time. This will instill anxiety in them and may be perceived as staring.
  • Build trust: practicing appropriate eye contact will help you build trust with others, allowing them to deem you trustworthy, respectful, and sincere.

As per the old saying, practice makes perfect. When rehearsing for a speech, make use of your family and friends; consider them your audience. If you live alone, there are a couple of simple tricks you can employ:

  • Try things out in front of a mirror: don’t just stare at yourself; be sure to vary your eye movements onto selective items.
  • Print faces onto objects in the room: this will allow you to practice your eye-contact without feeling anxious or nervous.

Body language and psychology are broad fields, and this blog is just the tip of the iceberg.

Antoine Boghos is Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |