How to Make Eye Contact While Giving an Oral Presentation

Do you have a big project or presentation coming up? Read this for information on how to make eye contact and keep the audience's attention.


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    Prepare your presentation. If it is entirely oral and there is no visual aid (i.e.: Power Point, Photos, Short Film, etc) you will need to make sure that you know all of your material. Spend time reading and trying to memorize your key points. It might help to make a list of ten key points that you absolutely need to cover. Study them, recite them, record them and put the sound file on your iPod or MP3 player and listen to them before you go to sleep.
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    Make note cards with your key points at the top and smaller points below. Practice giving your presentation by reading off of the cards and looking up towards a stuffed animal or pause a video or TV show when the screen is focused on a character's face. Try looking the figure in the eye while doing this. Repeat this often and try using the cards less and less. Don't look at one person for too long making them uncomfortable. A rule of thumb would be to hold eye contact for about 3-5 seconds. Make eye contact across several areas of the audience in a natural manner trying not to jump from person to person quickly.
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    When you are speaking to people, look them in the eye. If you don't normally do this, it might give you a boost of confidence in a regular conversation. Try asking someone to listen to a bit of your presentation (in between classes, during lunch, when ever you have free time). Tell them the key points and try look them in the eye while you are doing so.
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    Give your entire presentation to yourself, in the mirror. Look into your own eyes as much as possible while you are doing it(this is much harder than it sounds). After you've done this technique, you can also record yourself on your camera and note how many times you look away when you play it back.
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    Go for it! If you've followed these steps and you feel that you are confident in knowing your material, you should be able to look people in the eye while giving your presentation.


  • Dress nicely! If you look nice, the audience will pay more attention to you, rather than look away.
  • Don't fidget, but don't be afraid to move. If you feel comfortable walking a little, do so! Don't walk so far that the audience has to turn their heads to see you, just a step here, a step there. You'll get attention.
  • Use hand motions and gestures to accent your vocal expression. If you feel that you are losing attention, make them bigger and raise your voice slightly. Look at people who aren't looking at you and smile when they do acknowledge you.
  • Attempt to look at every person in the audience, this makes it personal. It shows that you want them to listen to you.
  • If your presentation is also visual, try to align your key points with your props.


  • If you get off track or forget a point, don't look up or down. Continue looking towards the audience, but focus on an inanimate object until you're ready to move back onto your presentation. It is ok to stop for a couple of seconds and gather yourself. Stopping is better than stammering and making excuses or admitting you made a mistake. Remember the audience does not know what you were going to say.

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Categories: Presentations