Body Language is critical when giving a speech. How we stand and what we do with our hands and eyes can determine to a large degree how well an audience receives our message. In a future post I will discuss more about body language in general, but for now I want to focus on eye contact.
In some cultures it is customary for people to avoid eye contact when speaking to others, especially those in authority. However in the United States, good eye contact is essential for good communication. When you maintain good eye contact with your audience, it does the following:
Shows you are honest and you mean what you say. Poor eye contact can convey insincerity and dishonesty.
Encourages your audience to pay closer attention and be involved in your message. It also gives you feedback on how well they are understanding.
Conveys to your audience you have confidence in what you are saying.
What does it mean to have good eye contact?
It means shifting your focus from one person to another, making eye contact each time. Don’t stay on one person too long or else they may think you are singling them out. A good rule to follow is make eye contact with one person for about 2 to 3 seconds, and then move to someone else.
NOTE: Along with good eye contact, a smile can also convey you are confident in what you are saying, and you are sincere about your message.