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Why Eye Contact Is So Important In Public Speaking

Why Eye Contact Is So Important In Public Speaking

There are a lot of things that can make someone an effective public speaker. They can play to their audience, speak clearly with an authoritative tone, or even simply possess natural charisma like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. One thing that is universal is eye contact. All of the best public speakers use eye contact for a myriad of reasons and we’ll go over some of those now.

1. Eye contact helps you concentrate

When your eyes are just scanning a room you end up taking in a lot of imagery. All those colors and shapes actually slow your brain down because it’s trying to concentrate on what you’re saying and also on all of this other stuff that your eyes graze over. By making eye contact every now and then, it allows your brain to focus on just one thing which clears it out to focus on what you’re trying to say.

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2. It helps others pay attention

Making eye contact with somebody is a good way to get them to pay attention to you. These days with smartphones, readily available WiFi for laptops, and other distractions, it’s really easy for a crowd to start to lose focus. You can help restore this focus by making eye contact with people. If you look at them they will also look at you. This is especially effective for smaller crowds. It’s a simple formula. If you look at them then they will look at you and if you cannot then they probably won’t.

3. It gives you authority

This one is easy to understand once you’ve seen an example. Parents and police officers especially know this. If your child can’t look at you in the face when they tell you something, chances are they are lying or are ashamed about what they’ve done. The same can be said for public speaking with small variations. If you can’t make eye contact with your listeners, your listeners will subconsciously lose faith that you know what you’re talking about. This is why tech companies typically find the most charismatic person to give presentations instead of the nerdy guys with stage fright. A lot of your authority comes from looking someone dead in the eyes and telling them what is what.

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4. Sustained eye contact can give you confidence

eye contact

    In the movies, you’ll see something akin to this in action. The man and the woman stare at each other for about 30 seconds and then they start kissing uncontrollably. Now we’re not saying that people are going to rush the stage and kiss you because that’s absurd. However, when you have eye contact with an individual you can give yourself more confidence.

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    5. It turns your listeners into participants

    When your audience notices that you’re look at them, it encourages them to respond using facial gestures. If you’re speaking and you look at someone who then frowns then you know something isn’t going right. This gives you a chance to change tactics. Looking at people, reading their expressions, and adapting after the fact turns your speech into a conversation with your audience. This can be the difference between a successful and enjoyable speech and a total flop.

    6. It will help you talk at a more pleasing pace

    When you look someone in the eyes for about three to five seconds it will actually slow your speech down. This helps you talk at a more natural pace and makes it easier for others to understand you. It may even help you pause entirely which is a popular tactic used by a lot of leaders and speakers.

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    When you combine all of these things into a single package you end up with a pretty significant difference in your speech giving. You’ll be more confident and talk at a better pace with more concentration. It can be the difference in convincing the audience and not convincing an audience. Need proof? Every time Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple’s yearly event, Apple’s stock went up.

    Featured photo credit: Carbonated via media.carbonated.tv

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    Last Updated on September 17, 2018

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

    Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

    All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

    Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

    How bad really is multitasking?

    It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

    Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

    This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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    We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

    So what to do about it?

    Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

    Now, forget about how to multitask!

    Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

    1. Get enough rest

    When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

    This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

    When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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    2. Plan your day

    When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

    When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

    Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

    3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

    I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

    I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

    Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

    4. When at your desk, do work

    We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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    Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

    5. Learn to say no

    Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

    Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

    By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

    6. Turn off notifications on your computer

    For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

    Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

    7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

    Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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    You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

    The bottom line

    Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

    Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

    Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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