The hidden benefits of making eye contact

16 april 2020

The previous blog revealed that about 95% of our decision making is hidden from our conscious mind. So, how does that affect eye contact?

Eye contact, too, has a great impact and carries great benefits in both domains, the conscious domain and the hidden, subconscious domain:

Practical Benefits

Let’s first look at the practical, conscious benefits of eye contact:

1) By making eye contact, you see things! You can see whether your audience gets the message, whether you are losing them, whether they are getting bored. In which case you can respond adequately, by adapting your story, or by simply identifying and naming the feeling. What a relief that is for everyone!

2) Eye contact makes your audience feel noticed, appreciated. And that is exactly what everyone wants, deep down. Eye contact is an investment: in a relationship, in others, in connecting.

Hidden benefits

So much for the practical benefits. Let’s look at the ‘gut’ benefits, i.e. the hidden advantages in the subconscious domain:

3) A person who makes eye contact exudes confidence and shows mental health. This is someone who is willing and able to trust other people and who is trusted by others. And rightly so: after all, if the eyes are truly the mirrors of the soul, something as seemingly simple as making eye contact leaves you quite exposed and vulnerable.

4) Do you remember that game you used to play in primary school: the staring contest? Where you just keep staring until one of you looks away? On a subconscious level, eye contact is about that too: about power, dominance and showing guts. I am well aware that some people may see these words as dirty words rather than benefits. If they make you feel uncomfortable, please try to mentally separate the presentation techniques from the actual content. The techniques are the same, even if your message is soft, caring and deeply humane. So, try to think of these techniques as mere vehicles, as the trucks needed to deliver the humanitarian aid.

After all, no matter how sensitive and caring your message, effective delivery rests on satisfying your audience’s gut feelings first. That is exactly what makes presenting one of the toughest and riskiest skills out there.

So use your eyes when presenting: they will tell you what’s happening around you, your audience will feel noticed, and people will trust you and think you’re brave.

Want to know more? Stay tuned for the next blog!

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