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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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    Joseph Hindy

    A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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