Planning 101 1st March 2015

Eye Contact - Enagage with Your Audience

When making a speech at a wedding, you are speaking to an audience who has come together to celebrate two people they care about. Be sure to make everyone in the room feel included and avoid speaking to just the ‘brides’ side’ or the ‘grooms’ side’.

Make sure that you maintain eye contact with both sides of the room equally, being sure to focus your attention on one person every 20 seconds or so. Find someone on the side closest to you when you begin your speech and speak to them; randomly move to someone further back and to the left or right of the first person. Continue this method throughout your speech making sure to connect with one person in every section of the room.

Though your eyes focus on one fixed person, the entire room will feel as if they are being spoken to. Rather than finding a moot or central point in the room and focusing there, choose individuals at random and connect with focused eye contact.

However, be careful not to stare at someone as this can be uncomfortable and too intense. To combat this, break the eye contact every 5 seconds or so. When breaking the eye contact, don’t look down as this might indicate the end of your speech. Instead, look up or to the side as if you are remembering something.

Focus on Mr Happy and not Mr Sad!
Though weddings are a time of celebration and fun, there, undoubtedly will be a person in the room who is bored, unimpressed, ready to go or even worse - on their mobile phone! As your eyes travel the room during your speech, you are bound to locate that person. It is very easy to be drawn to that person. As you are speaking, you are probably wondering why they are disinterested in what you are saying. Are you boring? Did your humour fall on deaf ears? Have they switched off? Don’t however focus there and attempt to change their countenance by making eye contact and speaking directly to them. It is a discipline to do this as even as a professional speaker, it is still quite a challenge. There could be all sorts of reasons as to why they are not listening but the key is not to take it personally.

Of course, a part of us wants everyone to like us and certainly to like what it is that we are saying.  But that unfortunately may not be the case.

So, instead, fixate on those who are smiling, nodding, and who seem to be enjoying themselves. You will maintain the positive and upbeat energy of your speech by doing so.