What’s So Hard About Making Eye Contact?

Imagine Your Eyes Are In Hammocks…

So many people avoid making eye contact in groups, it’s almost an epidemic! Ease with making eye contact is all about relaxing. When you relax, your audience relaxes too. And relaxed people are more receptive to hearing your message. It really is in your best interest to learn how to make gentle, sustained eye contact if you want to deepen your interpersonal communication skills.

In order to relax your whole body, you need to relax your eyes first. Imagine your eyes lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Miraculously, when the eyes are relaxed, the brain sends a message to your body, saying “You are safe and can relax.” And so, you do.

Let go of believing you have to connect with everyone at once in the group. Public speaking is not a multi-tasking competition. Allow yourself to relax and sink into your talk, just like you are swinging in a hammock. Be with 1 person at a time. Watch your words land on their face for you to see the connection between you. That’s really enough. You are not going to “lose people” if you aren’t gazing at all of them, all of the time.

Here are 4 steps to help you relax into making gentle, sustained eye contact:

  1. Relax your eyes first and let your body follow,
  2. Move your whole body and eyes to connect with 1 person,
  3. Maintain gentle eye contact for approximately 3 seconds-ish,
  4. Then move your body, eyes and words to the next receptive person. And so on.

That’s it. Relax your eyes. Soften your gaze. Make it an invitation, not a staring competition. Share the love around. Invite connection with one person at a time. Don’t run, stay steady. Pretend you are a lighthouse, tall and visible with an important job to do. As the speaker, you are the role model, so role model the kind of communication you want in return. Start with relaxed eyes and allow your muscles and your intentions to soften. Let the people in! And the people will let you in, in return.

This is one of those occasions when I can say, “Do Practise This At Home”. The dinner table is a good place to start making eye contact before you let loose on a bunch of strangers.

(c) 2017, Geraldine Barkworth, Goddess Of Public Speaking

 

It’s Not Me, It’s YOU

Get The Right You Me Speaking Ratio

Have you ever wondered why some people have the power to galvanise you into action? What these people get right is their use of the You Me Speaking Ratio when they communicate.

Excessive use of “I” and “me” turns listeners off quick-smart.  I love the joke about the actress who says: “Enough about me! Let’s talk about you! What do you think of my latest movie?”!!!

One of the fastest ways to lose an audience (or the attention of your friends and colleagues) is to talk mostly about your self and from your perspective.

Get The Ratio Right
According to my research, a language ratio of 10:1 of You:Me is about the right ratio to generate a balanced and inclusive speech. It leads to greater engagement and even ownership of your ideas because the speaker shows how their idea will work for you.

  • Examples of me-centred language: “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”.
  • Examples of you-centred language: “you”, “us”, them”, “they”, “we”, “our”… “together”, “community”.

Examine the difference for yourself in the next 2 short examples by noticing how you feel when you read them or even better, say them out loud:

Me-Centred
“I consider it imperative to make my health my number one priority. All the money in the world will not make me happy if I’m sick. My workshop today will show you how I did it, so you can too. I believe that health equals happiness.”

You-Centred
“All the money in the world will not make you happy if you are sick. We all have so many competing priorities and other people to attend to. This workshop will show you how to clear the clutter of your busy life and how to make your health and you, your number one imperative. Your health equals your happiness.”

A Famous Example Of A “You-Centred” Speech
In 1961, American President John Kennedy’s inaugural speech “…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” uses “me-centred” words only 4 times and uses ‘you-centred” words 50 times. (Now that’s an interesting contrast with the “me-me-centred” speeches given by one of Australia’s most recent Prime Ministers.) So do not let the 10:1 ratio trip you up. It’s not a rule, just a guideline to be aware of if you want to inspire, engage and build trust and an affirmative response from your listeners.

How To Connect And Inspire When You Speak

  1. Take a look at anything you’ve recently written, especially if it’s of a “speech” type nature or a self-intro. Identify the proportion of “you” versus “me” centred words.
  2. Emphasise “we” and “us” to keep the spotlight on your listeners or audience. Remember, it’s not about you, it is about them. A speaker or leader is just a temporary conduit of information to help others understand.
  3. Rewrite your speech or report and make it “you-centred” with a language ratio of at least 10:1 “you’s” and “we’s” to “I’s” and “me’s.” Notice and enjoy the difference in reaction.

When ever any one speaks, it is to benefit others, right? If not, you are just talking to yourself. And we all know the special terms for that!

If you’ve ever felt you’ve missed the mark when you speak and your friends, colleagues or an audience seem to switch off and aren’t interested in your ideas, examine your You Me Speaking Ratio. Once adjusted to “you-centred” language, you may now become the communicator you’ve always longed to be.

I’ve refined 3 coaching programs for you to deepen your communication skills:
1. Fear & Stage Fright Coaching
2. Presentation Skills Coaching
3. Peace, Purpose & Meaning Coaching

These weekly/fortnightly programs are available by phone, Skype video and a limited number by face to face at my office in Brunswick Heads, NSW. Contact me for more information. Hope this article was useful for you today, best wishes, Geraldine.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, speaking coach @ Goddess Of Public Speaking. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/