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Where to look? Using eye contact when presenting

One of the less known areas of presenting, especially when it comes to body language, is around eye contact.

How much is the right amount? Where exactly should you look? In this blog we guide you in the right direction.

If presenting to 10 people

Make eye contact with everyone you are speaking to, at some point in your presentation. With this number of people you don't want to focus on only one or two individuals, as you run the risk of making the rest of your audience feel excluded. Try to look at everyone in the room, even if it's just for a few seconds.

If presenting to 50 people

Make eye contact with some people - it won't be possible to look at everyone. Throughout your presentation, focus your attention on some people in the front row, the middle and the back row (and where necessary those around you). With this large a group, your eye contact doesn't have to be that strong, but it's important that you pay attention to the whole room.

If presenting to 100+ people

When presenting to big audiences, you might feel overwhelmed. So many faces looking at you alone! It's still key to look at your audience deliberately - turning your eyes to the front, the middle and the back of the room. But it may be helpful to look at the back wall for the majority of your speech - with such a large audience, this will give the illusion you are looking at the expanse of the whole room, while taking some of the pressure off.

A warning if presenting with slides...

When you are presenting with slides, you may find yourself wanting to focus most of you attention on the slides. It can feel like a nice crutch and take away the pressure to look at those in the room, instead focusing on what's familiar. Resist! The slide is there to aide you - your audience is still your focus.

...or with notes

Similarly, it can be tempting to focus your attention looking at your notes, especially in high stake environments. Notes are a great way to help prompt you when speaking, but, like slides, they should not be used as a crutch. If you feel yourself looking down too much, you probably are. At least 75% of your eye contact should be on the room, not on your notes.

Found this helpful? Get in touch to book a 1-1 presenting skills session with one of our coaches today.


HelpMePresent is the tutoring of presenting. We offer flexible, accessible sessions that can be easily booked. Drop us a line or click here to book now.

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