Have you ever been to the theatre and noticed the actors performing to the very back row? All the way up the back of the theatre? Their heads strained to the skies, their necks stretched and their words arc over the audience to reach that person sitting in Z26?
This is a craft of the stage. A technique actors have used since Elizabethan times to ensure their emotion filled characters and story arcs are felt by the entire audience – including Jane Treetops, who is sitting way, way up in the distance.
But have you ever wondered how the actor continues to connect with Bob Close? Sitting in A4? As he spends the performance glaring at the actor’s neck as all their emotional struggles go over the top of him?
The answer is in the eyes. The eyes have it.
The eyes are our connection point to another human. We struggle to connect without them. You will have been told of the importance of eye contact when engaging with another human being…And here’s the thing: They don’t need to be looking right at us for us to engage with them.
As long as we have some form of vision of the eyes, our primal brain registers the connection and we feel we are part of the tribe.
Here’s an excersize (you’ll need a friend). Have someone stand in front of you. Have them look to the ceiling. Now have them very, very slowly bring their gaze from the ceiling, down the back wall, onto the floor and eventually onto their own feet. Observe this. And note when it is you feel connected to that person, and when you lose that connection.
Did you lose the connection once you were looking at their eyelids??
This is a great skill to remember when presenting or facilitating. Always position yourself in a place where everyone can see some of your eyes. It will engage your audience. Just as the actors on a stage do.
For more tips like these and some advice on presenting the authentic you, head to our Services page and check out our ‘Presenting with Woo’ course