By Collette Larsen
During my fifteen years with USANA, I have looked into the eyes of thousands of people. I’ve been changed by these encounters so much that I believe eye contact – the way we look at each other – can make all the difference between an uplifting experience and a negative encounter. Eye contact is a powerful form of communication but it can be confusing and a little tricky.
If you avoid looking directly at the person you’re speaking with or if you gaze with too much intensity, what you have to say about our products or business plan is just not going to matter much. There’s a fine line between appearing shy and unsure of ourselves and coming across so intense that we intimidate the very people we want to befriend.
Several years ago during leadership training at USANA’s corporate headquarters, I was privileged to learn from Arch Lustberg. Mr. Lustberg is a communications expert whose client list includes business and political leaders as well as professionals in every field.
Arch had a way of getting us to laugh at ourselves while teaching us tips and techniques I’ll never forget. I remember him explaining that all our lives we’ve been taught to “look ’em in the eye” and how, in reality, many people find that threatening. Arch maintained that very few people find it comfortable to maintain steady eye contact. He suggested rather than looking up, down, looking at our watch, over their shoulder or from side to side, we simply find a spot on our prospect’s face (preferably in the general area of the nose, mouth or eyebrows), soften our gaze and look there while presenting. Eye contact, in Arch Lustberg’s view, means looking at someone. It doesn’t mean making our prospect uncomfortable by “staring ’em down!”
For some, effective eye contact seems automatic. We simply sense when we should look directly into someone’s eyes and we also sense when we’ve looked too long and it’s time to look away. It seems natural to intensify our gaze when we’re making an important point and to soften our look when we’re asking questions. It’s understood when we’re presenting to more than one person – a husband and wife, for example – that we divide our attention between both of them by alternating eye contact.
For others, reading people – knowing when to look at them and when to look away can be confusing. The good news is that we can practice. There were many times back in my early days in USANA when I practiced on my children and asked them to give me honest feedback. If you have trouble looking into someone’s eyes, make a conscious effort to make brief eye contact with everyone you meet. With practice, effective eye contact will come more naturally and you’ll feel relaxed and comfortable as you present.
One final point…we have an arsenal of secret weapons to help ease this process. Using a USANA sales tool during your presentation automatically allows you to direct your prospect’s attention to the Health and Freedom newspaper, the flipchart or to your favorite booklet or brochure. This relieves the pressure on you and allows you to present with more confidence.