A recent study by German Psychologists suggests that eye contact may not be advantageous to your cause if you are trying to persuade your audience to adopt your position or viewpoint. The research indicates that making eye contact with someone who does not agree with you appears to harden their resolve against your view point. My concern is the method of testing their theory.
According to the article they had “audiences” watching a speaker on a TV screen. This immediately separates the experience they are testing from a real world presentation. To be a valid test I would have expected them to verify their hypothesis using real presenters in live situations. It is in a live situation that a connection is formed between the speaker and the audience. This connection can not exist in a TV simulation.
With the connection, established and strengthened through eye contact, amongst other things, a speaker can then build a persuasive argument for the audience to change their positions.
I am still going to encourage my students and client to actively make eye contact. You can look me in the eye and count upon it!
Please share your thoughts and comments below.