In yesterdays post, we talked about what to do when things don’t go as planned. Today’s post is about speaking skills –
Where To Look When Speaking To An Audience
When you’re giving a presentation or speech, your body language and how you hold yourself in front of a crowd speaks to them as much as your words do. One thing new speakers often have issues with is where to look when speaking to an audience. Not being nervous in front of people when you’re doing public speaking is not “acting” nervous. If you have complete control over your body, your face and your hands, you can be relaxed in front of people and you will actually feel more at ease as you do your speech.
One problem that you often see in public speakers is their lack of eye contact with the audience.
It’s extremely easy as a public speaker to want to look at your outline or your written out speech throughout your presentation so you never get lost or have that terrifying feeling of not knowing what you’re going to say next. That is why many people who do not become skilled at talking in front of crowds write out their speeches word for word and just read it to the group. This is a few speaking skills you must possess and this a huge skill you must master to become a great public speaker.
You have been asked to give a speech, not a reading.
And many adults take offense at being read to. An audience wants to hear “from” you, not just hear you read. If that was the only value of a public presentation, you could just hand out your speech as a white paper and let them read it and not have to get in front of people at all. But that is not as effective as public speaking, particularly if the purpose of your speech is to convince or to sell.
So the question comes up of where to look as you give your speech?
Many speakers look at a spot at the back of the room because looking at the faces makes them nervous. This is better than staring down at your papers the whole time. For one thing, voice projection is a big part of getting your message out there. And even if you’re using a microphone, if you speak “out” into the crowd rather than down, your voice will be clearer and you will naturally use your diaphragm to do well at enunciating each word.
Another value of looking at the back wall is that it will help you project your voice, particularly if you’re not using amplification. The old actor’s motto of “performing to the last row” applies here because it means you consider everyone in that hall to be your audience, not just the people on the first row. Just remember though that your audience wants to be talked to, not at, and not over.
Make Eye Contact
The most valuable speaking skill you can use to really connect with your audience and get your message across is to make eye contact with the audience.
Eye contact is commonly used by salespeople to create a bond with the customer and that bond helps close the sale.
But even if your presentation is not necessarily a sales situation, eye contact will get your message across. And that is what you got up there to do in the first place.
Eye contact makes the audience look at you.
It keeps them attentive. To use eye contact to its maximum value, move your eyes from audience member to audience remember and speak to that individual directly.
Everyone around that individual will actually feel that eye contact and it rivets the listener to you.
Don’t linger on one person because you don’t want to stare but by becoming skilled at using eye contact as you speak to a crowd, you’re taking control of the presentation.
And having control is one of the most crucial speaking skills and a key to success in public speaking.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner
Did this post help you understand the most beneficial of speaking skills and figure out where to look when speaking to an audience? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!
In the next post, we will be discussing the importance of pausing during your talk.
Keep the Shiny Side Up,