Keep an Eye on Your Learners

Eye contact is a crucial element in building and maintaining trust. There are a variety of suggestions on how to use it during a training program. I have found that by making eye contact with a few select individuals who appear receptive or friendly, and smiling at them, I can relieve the initial anxiety felt during a presentation. Later, I casually make eye contact with other participants while sharing information throughout a program. To make everyone feel connected to me, the program, and the content, I periodically maintain eye contact with one or two learners as I speak before moving on to other learners and another point. Having practiced my material, I need to glance only occasionally at my lesson plan or notes. This allows me maximum time for participant eye contact.

The amount of time spent looking at your learners will vary. It is not necessarily the quantity but rather the quality of your eye contact that will make a difference. Concentrate on smiling and sending confident, friendly looks rather than challenging stares or blank gazes (e.g., over their heads or at the ceiling or floor).The latter can cause participants to believe you are nervous or unprepared as you blankly search for an answer or thought.

Eye contact is not only a way for you to send emotional messages to your learners. You can gain audience feedback by making eye contact with them throughout a session. For example, by noting blank stares you can often determine when someone has lost focus (MEGO effect—My Eyes Glaze Over) or it is time for a break (if large numbers of people exhibit MEGO). You can also determine confusion (constricted facial expressions), disagreement (frowning or shaking their head), or distraction (looking elsewhere) through eye contact.

What role have you seen nonverbal gestures play in managing learners in the past?

What types of nonverbal cues do you believe are least effective in a classroom? Why?

What types of nonverbal cues do you believe are most effective in a classroom? Why?

;ing eye contact with learners, I use a color-coded highlighting system. First I capitalize and bold all headers, subheaders, and indications for training aids and activities in my lesson plan. I then use yellow highlighters to indicate visual aids such as slides, transparencies, posters, or flip charts. I use green for any handout materials that I will give to learners, such as workbooks, flyers, or job aids. I use orange for videotapes or audiotapes. Using the bold and highlighted indicators, I can quickly glance at notes and know what to do next because I have adequately prepared and know my material well. The result is that my focus stays on my learners and not my written materials.

Movement is the door to learning.

Highlighted Notes o help me quickly find key points in my notes or lesson plan, thus helping me

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