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Lesson 5. Eye-Contact Communication > Control Pacing Through Eye Contact - Pg. 22

Eye-Contact Communication 22 Find Your Eye-Contact Pattern As your eyes move from one listener to another, avoid a regular pattern of making eye contact. For example, if people are sitting in a U-shape, don't start with a listener at one end and work your way from person to person around the room. Start with a listener on one side, then look at someone on the other side, then look at a listener in the middle. This will prevent listeners on the far end from dozing or daydreaming because they figure you'll have to go around the entire room before you look at them. It may take you some time to grow accustomed to using eye contact effectively, but if you make a conscious effort to speak to one person, pause, then speak to another, you'll reap huge benefits as a presenter. Eye-Contact Questions and Answers Here are the answers to some of the most common questions people have about eye contact: How long should I look at a person? I don't want to stare and make the individual feel self-conscious. --Use your own judgment. About 6 seconds spent looking at one person usually seems long enough. But if you have several allies in the audience and want to spend more time making eye contact with them, then do so. Should I try to spend about the same amount of time looking at each person during a presentation? --Obviously you can't time it exactly. Try not to shortchange anyone. Sometimes, people sitting in the back or on the far side of a room feel as if the speaker is paying no attention to them. Be sure you don't overlook those listeners. How should I deal with a key decision-maker? --You'll probably want to focus more eye contact on this listener because he or she has more power than anyone else. But make sure you know who the real decision-maker is. Some speakers have been fooled, and they've given too much of their attention to the wrong person. As you've gathered, there is no fixed pattern for making eye contact, but if you practice the advice in this lesson your use of eye contact will become more effective with every presentation. Control Pacing Through Eye Contact It may sound counterintuitive, but your eyes can actually control the pace of your presentation. Most of us have a tendency to talk much too fast. Perhaps it's only a reflection of the speed at which events seem to move in the twenty-first century. Perhaps you also find yourself with too many job responsibilities, so you constantly feel the need to hurry through each activity. Many speakers talk too rapidly out of nervousness and a natural desire to get the presentation over with as quickly as possible. But whatever the reason, speaking too fast can make it very difficult for an audience to follow what you're saying. Using the proper method of eye contact can eliminate this problem. Deliver a thought to one listener, pause as you switch your eyes to another listener, then-- and only then --deliver your next thought. This will reduce the pace of your presentation. Your audience will thank you for it. Tip Since patterning eye contact is not something we naturally do when making a presentation, it will take practice. But you'll quickly discover that pausing in between thoughts will not only work wonders on your pacing, it will give you a little extra time to think about what you're going to say next.