m62 has today debunked one of the more popular tips given to presenters in presentation or PowerPoint training: that the presenter should always maintain eye contact with key audience members.
Presenters are often advised to maintain eye contact, and yet this can often be more detrimental to delivering an effective presentation than helpful. It may help to ensure that the audience are paying attention and feel involved, but in other ways it can actually weaken the impact of a sales or marketing presentation.
The presenter can use the direction of his gaze to direct the audience’s attention. If the presenter breaks eye contact and looks at the screen himself, natural curiosity will automatically draw the audience’s attention to the slide, which can be useful in ensuring the audience are concentrating fully on something important, e.g. a client quote.
Most importantly, the brain cannot fully process information if eye contact is being made, as so much mental capacity is used in processing facial expressions. If eye contact is maintained for too long in a presentation, the audience can be prevented from mnemonically processing the information presented to them, and thus will not only fail to fully understand, but will be much less likely to remember it.
Nicholas Oulton, Founder of m62, commented: “So many tips are given that just aren’t that useful, and always maintaining eye contact is one of them. Of course, no presenter should just ignore the audience entirely, but following this tip can prove harmful to a business or corporate presentation. Constant eye contact is not natural in human interaction, and staring continuously at an individual can make them uneasy. A glance away every now and then prevents this uncomfortable feeling, and is so commonplace in everyday communication that it will probably go unnoticed.
“Ultimately, it is just a case of everything in moderation. Eye contact should be alternated between looking at the screen and eye contact with other audience members – and should not be directed in any one direction for too long.”
m62 have offices in the UK, Singapore and US, and work globally for blue-chip clientele including BP, Sony and Microsoft.
For more information about m62 visualcommunications, please call +44 151 259 6262 or visit m62.net.