Preaching Tips: Make Eye Contact with Everyone in the Room

Eye contact. It’s the most uncomfortable aspect of public speaking. Why? Because when we make eye contact with people, two things happen…

  1. We know a little bit more about what someone is thinking about what we’re saying.
  2. Our listeners know a little bit more about how we’re feeling about what we’re saying.

And both can be uncomfortable.

But the very reasons why eye contact is uncomfortable are the reasons why we ought to remember to utilize it as often as possible.

Eye contact is the single most important gateway to connection between the speaker and audience.

Bruce Wilkinson shared a story about his favorite professor, Howard Hendricks, a master teacher. Wilkinson performed an experiment in class one day, refusing to allow his eyes to meet Dr. Hendricks’. Bruce stared out the window, fiddled with papers, and did everything possible to seem disinterested.

Dr. Hendricks took notice and, without ever stopping the flow of his lecture, slowly made his way over to Bruce’s desk, stopped right in front of it, and stared until Bruce couldn’t take it anymore.

As a speaker and teacher, Dr. Hendricks highly valued connection and attentiveness.

We who preach usually would rather not know who is or isn’t interested in what we have to say. But we ought to be.

It’s not enough to merely stand up and share content verbally and hope it lands well. We should concern ourselves with whether or not our content actually sank in and made a difference. And the first step in doing so is a bit of listener outreach using our eyes.

So here’s the challenge. Whether you preach to 30 or 30,000 this weekend, do all that you can to make eye contact with every single person in the room at least once. This allows you to signal to them that you see them. They aren’t invisible.

It also allows you to get immediate feedback. If you can’t find any eyes, you might need to change gears!

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