I gave a two public presentations last week in Chicago. Each presentation had about 20 attendees. I was espousing the virtues of Symplified’s product. The first was a case study with the American Hospital Association (click here for a recorded version of the webinar). The second was on how to securely protect business use on mobile devices.
What I noticed is that I during the first, I felt I had equal eye contact with many of the audience. During the second presentation, in the beginning I primarily focused on one person who seemed particularly interested in what I was saying. Okay, maybe there was something to the fact that she was the only woman in a room full of 20 guys. It took me some minutes before I realized that I needed to spread my attention around, to keep more people engaged. I find myself more engaged when I am connecting to more people. And one reason to give a public presentation is to connect with as many people at one time as you can. Otherwise, just have a bunch of one-on-one conversations, right.
Think about when you’re in the audience, and the presenter looks right at you for part of the presentation. You feel included, you feel important, you feel the love. Now think about a time when the presenter gave way more eye contact to you than anyone else, you start to feel estranged, and singled-out.
To make the biggest impact when you are presenting, make as much eye contact as you can, and try to give some eye contact to everyone. Spread the love as far as it will go, and you’ll get the most interest in your topic, convince the most people, and accomplish the most.