Speaking Circles International (R)

The Pleasure Principle

of Public Speaking






Authentic Eye Contact

By Lee Glickstein

These words by Doreen Hamilton hang on the wall at our San Anselmo training center:
"The confidence to speak in any public situation transforms your ability to be yourself in all areas of your life."

Relational Presence is key to this wide-ranging confidence to be yourself, and eye contact is the way in. However, conventional eye contact as commonly taught will not achieve this result.

In his new book, The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love, and Life, Michael Ellsberg writes that people who experience Bill Clinton in person usually report, "When he looked at me, I felt like we were the only people in the room." According to Ellsberg, that sentence nails the transcendent power of eye contact, "...the ability to forge a connection so strong between humans, in so short a time, that two people feel like one in an instant. I know of no other force in human experience that can work such magic so quickly."

Ellsberg goes on to list the areas of life in which such capacity to quickly "forge ... strong feelings of connectedness, commonality, and trust" are most useful, from romance to sales to public speaking to family heart-to-hearts.

When Ellsberg interviewed me for his book, I explained that the kind of eye contact that works Clintonesque wonders is of a specific nature that is not clearly reflected by the common usage. "Eye contact" to most conveys a surface technique with little depth.

What Bill Clinton does so well is as much about what is going on behind the eyes and in the heart and soul as where his eyes are aimed. That is why Speaking Circle training uses the specific term Relational Presence to guide the role of the eyes in allowing connection that leads to instant rapport.

"Allowing" is a key word when it comes to authentic connection. We don't "forge" instant rapport. It is not even in our power to "make" connection with another. As humans we are already essentially connected, are we not?

In standing in (and for) the connection that already is and by gently inviting the other to join us, we allow the essential human connection to reveal and flourish, and for our words to come through naturally with bold precision.

Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" may have become a joke and a cliche, but that sentiment pinpoints where enlightened leaders and messengers need come from. An apt translation of that sound bite might be: "I respect your full range of emotions and am available to be moved by your humanness."

llow your powerful authenticity to radiate through the windows of your soul by consistently coming from that place as your highest priority.

© 2011, Lee Glickstein. All rights reserved.



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