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Eyeballing Individuals

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Eyeballing Individuals

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When speaking, and in particular when making key points, look directly at individuals within the audience.

When eyeballing, pause for a few seconds at each person. Complete the point before moving on to look at another.

Do not blankly stare. Use your eyes to convey emotion, including your desire that they understand you and empathize with your thoughts.

Imagine that it is just you and them, having a conversation. Emphasize this by using the body language you would use for personal communication.

Do not just eyeball the front row. Look at people in all parts of the audience. Move around the stage as you speak to help this. Reach out towards them to show the back row that you are including them too.

Example

A politician giving a speech at at local rally looks into the eyes of individuals, trying to get around the whole audience.

A teacher looks at individual pupils as she explains a point, checking that they are paying attention and seem to be understanding her.

Discussion

Not looking at the people in the audience is a common trap that speakers fall into as they focus too much on their subject and getting the right words out. This can be interpreted as a lack of concern for them, which they may then reciprocate by not paying attention to you.

When you look at another, you create a bond, joining your identities. This is a powerful way of getting them to align their thinking with yours. In initiating the eye contact you also may take a position of authority, which is enhanced by your physical position on the stage, so requiring the other person to attend to your words.

Scanning is not eyeballing. Scanning is where your eyes rove constantly. Eyeballing is pausing, holding the gaze of another until you have completed your point, just as in everyday conversation. Of course you should not hold the gaze too long as this becomes a stare.

It can seem surprising that you can look at a person in the back row and they know this, yet we each have a unique skill in knowing when others are looking at us.

If you are too uncomfortable with eyeballing, you can simulate it by slightly defocusing your eyes and looking towards people. Whilst not as effective as eyeballing, it is far better than not looking at your audience.

See also

Bonding principle, Working the Diagonals

 

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