"The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter - often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter - in the eye." - Charlotte Brontë, Jayne Eyre
When we are excited our pupils can dilate to up to four times their original size. Conversely, negative or angry emotional states will cause our pupils to restrict to those 'beady little eyes'. Below are two key dynamics to consider when sharing eye contact in your own presentations.
Connecting with groups
Once audience sizes grow beyond fifty it becomes harder to share your eye contact equally. A simple technique is to pick individuals within groups placed around your auditorium. As you speak directly to those people - holding their gaze – the twenty or so people around them will feel that you are also speaking to them.
As long as you are covering your entire area in these smaller groups, your audience will feel involved and connected. As you return to your previous groupings, find different people and follow the same principle.
Check for a reaction
It’s crucial you check for your audience’s reaction, just as you would if you were having an intimate conversation with a friend. If an audience member feels you are talking to them, they will nod and smile. Their eyes will also 'light up' or 'shine' as Benjamin Zander (see below) says. Use these reactions to help gauge your pace.
Benjamin Zander's TED talk on the transformative power of classical music is a wonderful example of how to fully connect with a group of over 1,500 and check for reactions to gauge where and when to shift the pace. His connection is so complete with his audience that he spends most of his time in amongst them.
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