resident Christopher Wright presents his views on using your
eyes in presentations. Do the activity first here: Use
Your Eyes Activity, or, if you prefer, simply read and listen
to the article below.
Profesor de inglés de negocios y de inglés general imparte clases en empresas y a particulares en el centro de Madrid.
The definitions of some expressions can be
found at the bottom of the page and linked in the activity above.
Use Your Eyes: One of the Keys to Presenting
By Christopher Wright:
This may sound incredibly simple but when you listen to someone
give a presentation or speech what do you prefer? Someone who
reads directly from their scripted notes rarely looking at the
audience, or someone who maintains direct eye contact with the
Yes it’s not a difficult choice, eye contact is important but
do you know why?
Recent research from Harvard University has shown that without
eye contact we lose that all important emotional connection
with the audience. A lack of emotional connection means you
never get the chance to truly capture the hearts and minds of
People associate eye contact with honesty, sincerity, self-confidence
and passion, all the characteristics of a great communicator.
Think about the times you’ve been in a presentation or a public
speech, as the speaker looked repeatedly down to read their
notes, what were you thinking about?
Is confidence only communicated through words or are non-verbal
clues just as important. Research into courtroom trials showed
that jurors view witnesses who look at questioners directly
in the eye as more credible and honest.
Next time someone speaks to you about something they are really
passionate about, watch their eyes, are they dull or bright
and sparkling. Most of us when truly animated by a subject come
alive. Our body language becomes more dynamic, body gestures
more energetic and our eyes twinkle and sparkle like diamonds.
Today’s audiences switch off to speakers who read from notes.
Reading from notes chains you to the podium, have no body language
and so lose over 70% of your ability to communicate. High impact
presenters and speakers understand that their key messages have
the greatest impact when both their body language and verbal
communication are giving the same powerful messages with commitment
What about if you have no passion or feeling for presenting
your company’s services or products? Well passion and feeling
can be achieved by starting your speech speaking about something
you do have passion and feeling for and deliberately relating
it to the subject of your presentation. Say last night’s football
game or place you visited that excited you, as long as you then
relate it to the topic. The effect of the excitement in your
body lasts for quite a while and will flow over into your presentation
of company services and products.
How long should you maintain eye contact? Staring in any culture
is as uncomfortable for you as it is for the audience. Some
research studies suggest you should maintain eye contact for
80-90% contact, but staying focused that long can be tiring.
Some top presenters suggest controlling your eye contact by
splitting the audience into three parts and focusing on one
person in each of the three sections. Random eye contact with
too many people loses you control of the audience. Then maintain
eye contact with that person for as long as it takes to register
their eye colour, any longer and you’ll be staring. Try and
spend an equal amount of time addressing people in each of the
3 parts of the audience.
Practice with colleagues, a coach/trainer, friends or family.
Ask them to give you a mark of between “1-10” to evaluate how
credible they felt each of your key messages were. Where “1”
you feel it’s a complete lie and “10” is 100% trust. Repeat
your presentation 3 times and at the end of each presentation
ask them to explain their marks.
Eye contact can also be combined with pauses to give your messages
greater impact and energy. Pausing before you say something
important, creates anticipation, makes the audience feel you
are knowledgeable and in complete control. Pausing after you
say something important (with good eye contact) gives the audience
time to think about, understand and absorb a key message. It
also keeps them involved in the presentation giving them time
to catch up if they were lost. Top presenters use the PEEP rule:
P : Pause (first pause)
E : Energy and enthusiasm
E : (Focused) Eye contact
P : Pause (second pause)
expressions from the text: Vocabulary Activity
1. scripted notes - prepared written notes
2. capture the hearts and minds - persuade and convince the
3. come alive - the person feels more passionate about what
they are saying
4. twinkle and sparkle like diamonds - shine brightly
5. switch off - stop concentrating
6. chains you to the podium - remain in one place unable to
7. key messages - most important points of your presentation
8. jurors - people who decide if somebody is guilty or not guilty
of a crime
9. flow over - something that continues on into the next thing
10. making eye contact - both people see each other at the same
11. staring - keeping your eyes fixed on one thing without moving
12. register eye colour - looking until you know what eye colour
a person has
13. splitting the audience - dividing something into parts or
1. When have you used eye contact to persuade or convince?
2. What’s the difference with presenters who maintain eye contact and those who don’t?
3. How do you emphasise your key messages in your presentations?
4. Describe what you think makes a great presenter?
5. Who are / were your favourite presenters or public speakers? Why?