By Karen Rodriguez
HR West is right around the corner! Many HR professionals will attend with the goal of connecting with peers and getting their message across. Whether networking with a group, conducting a small session or presenting a keynote address, your communication skills play a large part in how well you deliver your message and connect with others.
Eye contact is essential.
People have a hard time trusting someone who doesn’t look them straight in the eyes. While making eye contact can be difficult with one-on-one conversations, it’s even more difficult when networking with a group or presenting to an audience.
Anyone who has taken a public speaking class has likely been told to “scan the room.” The idea is to make eye contact with as many people as possible to get your message across. However, we’ve seen this method increase anxiety and make you appear less genuine.
When speaking to a group at dinner or during a training session, the best approach is to look at one person at a time for a complete thought, “One person: One thought.”
Each thought should last around five to seven seconds. That’s long enough to make a connection but not too long that it turns into a creepy stare. Following this approach will:
1. Decrease your stress level. Looking at one person for a full thought simulates a one-on-one conversation. For that thought, everyone else will disappear and you will automatically calm down.
2. Reduce “ums” and “uhs.” When you make eye contact, you are less likely to use filler words. As a result, you will sound more knowledgeable and credible.
3. Help you avoid distractions. As you focus on one person, the audience member texting in the back of the room, the people walking in late, and the banter of a group across the room won’t distract you.
4. Create connections. Not only does eye contact keep your audience’s attention, it demonstrates that nothing is more important to you than them in that moment. When you show your commitment to your audience, they will feel connected.
Focus on your audience and they will give you their attention. And, only speak when you make eye contact. The best communicators focus more on others and less on themselves.
For more communication skills tips, check out The Chat.
There's still time to register for HR West 2016 - March 7-9, 2016 at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, California.
About the Author
Karen Rodriguez is a passionate marketer, designer, and communicator. With over 15 years of experience, Karen Rodriguez currently manages Exec|Comm’s global brand including their online presence, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events. She recently launched the firm’s blog, The Chat, and lunch & learn series, The Learning Exchange. Additionally, she manages the delivery and expansion of Exec|Comm’s open-enrollment seminars in Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Karen holds a BFA from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City. She lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.