“Eye contact with your audience is vital,” the presenter said at a seminar I attended.
Eye contact? Gulp. Being blind, how in the world would I manage that?
It was a crazy idea anyway for me to become a speaker. I’ll just share my stories and inspiration with groups of close friends. That became my plan.
But God had a different one.
The invitation came to inspire a group of business people in a community organization. I was helped to the front and a mic was placed in my hand. The good thing was I couldn’t see all of them staring at me. Bad thing was I had no idea where they were seated.
With shaky hands, I held the mic tight. “Can I ask you a favor,” I said. “Will all those to my right, say “Hi Janet,” and those to my left do the same?” Once I heard their voices, I knew the general direction to look, and where to scan as I spoke.
But minutes after I started the presentation, I forgot all about the eye contact stuff and decided to connect with their hearts instead.
“No one could tell you’re blind,” a lady told me afterwards. “You looked right at me as if you were talking to me.”
Decades have swept by since that first talk. And now I have developed my own list of how to make, not just a contact, but a heart-to-heart connection with your audience.
1. Develop a passion for the message you’ll share. Knowledge of a subject will spread information; passion will stir their hearts.
2. The beginning has to capture their attention. Humor, a profound question, or a statement about them are ways to grab their focus.
3. Inform them what you will share, what they will learn, and what they will take away.
4. Listen for rustling, movement, or fidgeting. All are signs they’re not fully engaging with you and your message.
5. Use acrostics for each point. (Unable to use notes, this keeps me organized and clear with each point.)
6. Bring a blend of humor with stories—moving stories, powerful stories and even sad stories to make each point.
7. End with a memorable conclusion, summarizing the points mentioned or a powerful quote.
I found that eye contact is good, connecting with their hearts is better, and leaving them inspired to take action is how they will remember you.
To read more of Janet’s stories to ignite in you a passion to overcome, dance right over to my blog.