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Look Around

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Look Around

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When you are speaking, do not just look at your notes or vaguely outwards. Look around at your audience. Pick on a person and speak as if just to them. Sweep your gaze slowly around the room. Look at the people at the back and in the front. Look at those on the far right and left. Look along diagonals so many people at once see you look

When you pause, for breath or for dramatic effect, use this gaze to directly communicate the power of what you are saying.

Do not hold the gaze of one person for too long. Keep your eyes skipping from one person to another, pausing only long enough to grab their attention.

Example

I am going to talk to you today about your future. [pause, looking directly at person on left, and then sweeping gaze around to right as continuing to speak] Every one of you will be affected. Every one will need to be ready.

Discussion

When you look at a person, they look back. Even in an audience, they will feel you are speaking to them. Even a brief locking of eyes will grab their attention such that they will continue to pay attention (if for no other reason than to be ready in case you look at them again).

If you stare too long at one person, they will feel uncomfortable. The time before a gaze becomes uncomfortable will vary with factors such as the dominance of the gaze, gender, age and so on. 

Lin et al (2016) found that speakers with high social anxiety spend more time looking at people who appear to be thinking negatively (frowning, etc) while people with low social anxiety look more at people who are smiling, looking interested, etc.

See also

Smile at Your Audience,

 

Lin M, Hofmann SG, Qian M, Kind S, Yu H. (2016). Attention allocation in social anxiety during a speech. Cognitive Emotion, 30, 6, 1122-36

 

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