A lot can be expressed from a person’s eyes. Eye contact skill is one skill that plays a major role in your communication skills, presentation skills and public speaking. For many people, it provides a feeling of understanding and openness. It is also difficult to lie while looking into a person’s eyes (there may be some exceptions). Looking into other’s eyes while conversing shows your attention, depicts your self-confidence and expresses your sincerity. Different parts of the world may have different meanings of having an eye contact. Being able to use this skill effectively can be a bonus for your public speaking and personality development and establishing close relationships with people.
Different situations demand different uses of the eyes. For instance, if you are arguing you must be able to hold your watch. If you are deferring, it is better to lower your eyes, if you in love with someone, it is good to stare into the other person’s eyes. If you try to avoid looking into other person’s eye while making a conversation, it can indicate nervousness, and on the other hand, the other may feel uncomfortable if you stare too much. Such a gesture might reflect over-confidence and disrespect. It is also advisable not to stare directly into the eyes of a person. If you are able to use this skill as per the need of the situation, it shows the best of your personality.
Every culture has its own rules and regulations. Making eye contact by a man with a woman who is not related to her is not allowed in some cultures. In others, a woman is considered unrespectable if she makes does so.
Some people make you uncomfortable by looking into your eyes intently. If you also fall in the same category then soften the stare by looking away at a gap of few seconds. But also make sure that you bring back your attention.
If you are of the kind that you feel uncomfortable with looking into someone’s eyes directly, then you may choose to look at the eyes area like eyebrows or the nose bridge. This would make your eyes go a little out of focus and you would not feel nervous.
If you gaze at a person every now and then while conversing, it gives him a sense that you are listening to him carefully. Also, if you add on some expressions like nodding and smiling, this would show your interest in the conversation. Keep changing your facial expressions while keeping your facial muscles relaxed.
Also, in different situations we make different kinds of eye contacts. Here are some ways to improve your skills in.
1. TALKING TO AN INDIVIDUAL– It is very good to look into other’s eyes while conversing with an individual but staring intensely at the other person may become a bit uncomfortable for some.
In such a case, you may break the contact after every 5-7 seconds. But at this time, do not look downwards as it may signal the end of conversation to the other person. Instead, you may look upwards or sideways so as to give an impression that you are thinking something. So when the listener would see this they’ll think you are trying to recall something and would keep listening.
2. TALKING TO A GROUP- While talking to a group, like we have to do in public speaking, see to it that you do not look at only one person. This would make others lose interest in your talk. Make sure to focus your contact with different members while switching from one sentence to another. This way, it would appear that you are talking to the whole group and everyone would be able to maintain interest.
3. LISTENING TO SOMEONE- While listening to someone, if you stare at the person speaking, he may not feel comfortable. You may look into the eyes and around the eyes from time to time so that the other person does not get conscious. Also, you can use some word along with eye contact like hmm, uh-huh etc. and you may also nod at some points. This would show that you are interested in the talk.
4. ARGUING-Holding the gaze in an argument shows your strength. The moment you look, you are defeated in the argument. Keeping silent and staring at the person trying to annoy you would help you to win the argument.
There may be many more situations needing different skills of eye contact. Try applying some of the above and you would see a positive change in your personality and public speaking.