Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Out of hundreds of training workshops, one connecting action stands supreme. It makes audiences think This person really wants to connect with me.

That's it. I just told you the secret.

But how do I do that?

Deliberately show your desire to connect

The core of the secret is in the eyes. Go eye-hunting... direct eye-contact with this person... with that person... over here... over there... a touch of urgency in head and body movements... as if you would reach every individual if you could. Your eyes are saying, I want you to get this! Back up the eye-hunt by injecting more energy into your voice and body language.

Welcome to instant connection. I'm not exaggerating. It's more immediately effective than audience-centred content (though that too is essential to good connection). It works for any meeting, presentation or speech for any size audience.

Don't kid yourself that direct eye contact is too aggressive. That's a cop-out.

Practice the technique on your own

Try this trick in front of a mirror. Imagine that your reflection is a friend you're trying to convince. (Make up a topic). Deliberately act out a strong desire to convince your mirror friend. Look into his or her eyes for a response! Notice that your eyebrows rise, furrows appear in your brow, your voice has more up and down tones.

In a real audience those signals automatically reach into the subconscious minds before you and compel the response: This is worth listening to.

Gaining confidence with the technique before your next presentation

Okay, we all know what the catch is. It's our own wary minds. If I put on this obviously deliberate performance I'll look like a show pony! I'll look foolish!

If that's you, then experiment in small increments that don't push your comfort threshold too far. Experiment on a real friend (one you can trust) and get immediate feedback. Then, try it out on a real audience, but always prime someone in advance to give you honest, specific, feedback afterwards. Later, interrogate them: Did I look and as if I wanted to be there? How was my eye-contact? Too much? Too little? What did I overdo? What did I underdo?

The most common response to showing your desire to connect is, "You sounded more believable."

The bottom line? Those with the courage to try it out say, "Somehow it made me feel more confident!"

How about that?


About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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