Why Eye Contact Effectively Engages the Audience During Presentations

After long hours of hard work, you have finally finished a great PowerPoint presentation but it doesn’t stop there. The next step is the actual presentation of your project. You will need to speak in public and discuss important matters while running your presentation. This is actually the most important part of all and it can make or break your pitch.

One mistake people do is exhausting all their efforts in the PowerPoint presentation and not preparing enough for speaking. The thing is – no matter how great your PowerPoint presentation is, it won’t be effective if you can’t sell it to your audience. So, take time to practice your pitch until you are confident enough to do it in front of a real audience.

Believe it or not – captivating an audience all starts with one simple act: eye contact. Here’s the science behind this and why you need to do it in your presentations:

Engaging Your Audience

Public speaking is more than just reading your cue cards out loud. In order to sell what you are preaching, you have to be an engaging speaker. This connects you to your audience, creating a relationship of trust and credibility.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is crucial if you want your audience to really connect with what you are saying. This instantly engages the public, bringing them in to your presentation. When you make eye contact with the people in your audience, it can actually help calm your nerves. This tells your sympathetic nervous system (also known as the fight or flight response) to face your fear.

Social Engagement System

When you activate your social engagement system, this immediately lowers down your heart and reduces your adrenaline, putting you in a much calmer state. This is the ‘brake’ for your sympathetic nervous response. This system is activated when you make eye contact and it gives instant results.

Audience Rapport

When the social engagement system is activated and you are already making eye contact with your audience, they will feel a sense of rapport with you. Eye contact tells your audience that they are safe and you are approachable, which makes them more willing to trust you and believe in what you are saying.

Participation

Once you have successfully build up audience rapport, your listeners will most likely be more participative in your presentation. According to a study, the willingness to participate is directly proportional to the amount of eye contact someone receives.  If you connect with your listeners and look them in the eye, they will be more engaged and willing to interact during your presentation.

Additionally, this also promotes better information recall for your listeners. People will feel that you are talking to them directly, making them listen more. Because of this, the audience will better retain the information you have given them. Eye contact creates associative glue which helps with memory, perception and even decision making.

In Conclusion

Do not neglect the simple act of eye contact. This might seem like a small detail but it is actually a very powerful thing. This science-backed trick can help you make your presentation more engaging, resulting a satisfied audience who will be more than willing to help your cause or buy your product.

Managing Director, MagicHat Design