PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

“Make eye contact with one audience member long enough to finish a thought and then move on to someone else.”

This eye-contact advice is standard fair in many presentation skills workshops and books about public speaking.

It sounds good, but is it practical?  Every time I’ve tried it over the years I get the strong feeling I’m looking at individuals too long.  Maybe I just have long thoughts.

It feels more reasonable to look at an individual just long enough for it to register that you are connecting with them.  I sometimes say it is that point where “I know that you know that we both know that I’m looking at you.”  That’s enough.

The point is to give more than fleeting eye contact without lingering so long it becomes a stare.  Stares usually mean either aggression or affection.  If you don’t want a fight or a date it’s best to move on to another audience member.

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