Does Eye Contact Play Any Role in Communication?


Eye contact has been emphasized as a crucial part of communication; its importance cannot be stressed more. It has been prioritized by many prominent scholars and speakers as an essential component of ensuring messages are passed effectively to an audience in face-to-face communication. This essay reiterates the knowledge already available on the essence of eye contact and seeks to reinforce the importance of this non-verbal cue.

Connection with the Audience

Eye contact ensures a connection is created with an audience. Looking at the listeners when making a point ensures that they are invited to become a component of the conversation. The message being passed across is no longer considered a monologue after eye contact has been established. The regard by the speaker for the audience is obvious at this point and makes the listeners pay more attention. Eye contact forces the audience to own the topic of discussion and regard it as their own. The connection is essential for later stages of the conversation, where the audience is invited to pose questions to the speaker (Rogers et al.). The concentration built through eye contact is vital in ensuring attentiveness throughout the presentation. Effective understanding and integration of the topic by the audience boost inquisitiveness that serves as the basis of the queries posed to the presenter. Establishing eye contact must also occur systematically with the audience to create a connection. Eye contact from the start of the conversation indicates seriousness and commitment on the part of the speaker.

Eye contact at the start of the conversation acts as an invitation for the listeners to become part of the presentation from the onset. Initial eye contact is vital and must be strategic, especially where large audiences are involved. The eye contact in these crowds must sample the entire room, and the eye contact must be segmented. This implies that a speaker divides the room into sections and picks individuals to maintain eye contact within those areas. Division of the room ensures uniformity and attentiveness from all the sections (Cañigueral and Hamilton). The eye contact must also last about five seconds to provoke the attention of the listeners.

The five-second window is a sufficient period for a speaker to make a point to their listeners. The period allows the selected listener to acknowledge the attention of the speaker. Acknowledgment is followed by integration and understanding of the concept being raised, along with the appropriate question. The creation of a connection between a speaker and their audience must consider the features of the listeners. This guarantees that the eye contact established plays the role of binding the two parties from the onset.

Improved Concentration

Establishing eye contact enables a speaker to improve their concentration during their entire speech or presentation. Speeches in a room full of an expectant crowd are tense and sometimes difficult. There are different sounds and lights within the space, which can be distracting, making a speaker lose focus. Concentrating during such instances is essential in guaranteeing that a presenter communicates their message from start to end. Such concentration is mostly obtained from sufficient preparation, which ensures all points are effectively mastered. In certain instances, concentration may be diminished and in such scenarios, eye contact is effective (Palmer et al.). Eye contact with members of the audience is a reminder of the purpose of the ongoing presentation and relieves pressure. A speaker can keep their mind from veering from the room and entertaining alternative thoughts. Eye contact clears the mind and calms the nerves in cases where a speaker is likely to panic. This is especially true if there are familiar faces in the audience. Most audiences usually have a friendly face who can encourage a speaker with a smile, motivating them to keep their concentration.

Friendly faces within an audience can encompass a friend invited by the speaker themselves or people met shortly before the presentation. Eye contact is more effective when acquaintances are made shortly before the presentation. A speaker can meet their listeners a few minutes before the actual presentation and create rapport with them. Such an ambiance makes certain sections of the audience familiar with the speaker, so the presenter knows who to look at during their presentation to ensure concentration is effective (Palmer et al.). The brief conversations with the audience before the presentation makes the listeners keener to the message being passed later on. They indicate this through nodding as the presentation is ongoing and smiling at the presenter. This encourages a speaker to keep their concentration due to the expectations they created amongst members of the audience earlier before the actual presentation. Eye contact for five seconds with one particular person makes a speaker more aware of what they are saying. A presenter slows down in their speech and their words, therefore, seem to mean more to the listener. This encourages thoughtfulness in the entire room, boosting concentration further.

Authority and Confidence

Good eye contact projects authority and confidence in the speaker, encouraging the audience to take their speech seriously. A person who is jittery and who avoids eye contact ultimately appears unsure of what they are saying. A speaker who avoids eye contact diminishes the quality of their speech or presentation in the eyes of the listeners and inspires no confidence in their abilities (Haataja et al.). Looking at people in the eye commands them to avail their attention to the listener. It provokes them to put aside whatever else they deem essential, including their mobile phones, to focus on the speaker. Eye contact between a speaker and their audience communicates readiness even when a speaker is doubtful of their abilities. Mastery of content is sometimes inadequate due to insufficient preparation time or other factors outside the scope of the speaker. When this is the case, the speaker can communicate their half-baked ideas to the audience without projecting their insecurities. Eye contact is the first essential step in establishing this dominance in the audience. The listeners cannot be doubtful of the ability of the speaker when eye contact is present.

Authority and confidence are not just about ensuring the audience appreciates the prowess of the speaker but also making the presenter comfortable. Comfort during speeches and presentations is a crucial aspect of communication, sometimes more important than the message itself (Haataja et al.). It is vital that in an attempt to establish authority and confidence a speaker does not make their audience uncomfortable. The speaker must look at the listeners who are content with the eye contact only while avoiding those who may feel tensed by this attention. Identifying uncomfortable listeners is a quick step that takes a few seconds.

The speaker can try to encourage the audience who may be uncomfortable with their attempt to assert authority through smiling. This is a crucial cue that invites the listeners into the conversation and encourages continued attention to the end of the speech (Salonen et al.). Communication instances where the speaker displays confidence often discourage side talks. Side talks are sometimes geared towards critiquing the content of the speech or presentation before its end. Instead of side talks, the audience is likely to hold their questions until the end of the presentation and pose them to the speaker for clarification.

Greater Engagement with the Audience

Eye contact also acts as a gateway that invites engagement with the audience. With eye contact, the speaker can note the listeners nodding, smiling, or frowning as the speech continues. This means that the audience has been converted from a passive one to an active group of listeners. Engagement stems from the humane nature of eye contact and the message this cue communicates to the audience (Fiorella et al.). The speaker lets the listeners know that they care about their views and would love to involve them in the conversation. The presentation is effectively transformed from a monologue to a dialogue with many participants. This engagement can be provoked through scanning of the room by the speaker making short five-second glances at the listeners. Engagement through the non-verbal cues is as crucial as engagement through verbal cues such as questions at the end of the speech or presentation. Non-verbal cues act to provide direction to the speaker in the process of communication. Approval or disapproval by the listeners is a crucial modifier of the presentation style or content.

A seasoned speaker can alter their tone at the disapproval of the crowd communicated through frowning to ensure communication is smooth. They can also communicate some points more by expounding them further. The speaker also boosts engagement by making timely eye contact with the audience. The timely contact should occur at essential times, such as when main points are being communicated. This guarantees that the listeners make mental notes of these instances and sometimes written notes of the same (Fiorella et al.). The engagement of the audience by compelling them to make notes is an underrated use of eye contact. Such engagement can be achieved through the combination of eye contact, repetition, and emphasis. Eye contact is meant to combine with other verbal communication cues to foster understanding, as illustrated above. Engagement can also be achieved when eye contact is holistic and involves all members of the audience. This involves making eye contact distributed amongst all members of the audience equally, without making favorites. A speaker is only permitted to focus on particular members of the audience when nervous and when these listeners are familiar.

Memory, Attraction, and Persuasion

Eye contact in all spheres is also vital for making a speaker more memorable to their listeners. When one maintains eye contact, even in casual conversations, their listeners are keener to their words. This is because eye contact makes a speaker more noticeable, their intent more profound, and their words more impactful (Lanthier). The net result of these is a lasting impression that is engraved in the memory of listeners.

A speaker who maintains eye contact is also a bit more attractive in the eyes of the listener. Attractiveness indicates a positive judgment of the speaker by the listener before the conversation even commences (Croes et al.). It is vital to note that the impression people have about others impacts the seriousness they attach to their words (Croes et al.). This is why a speaker who is perceived as an attractive party due to eye contact is likely to leave a lasting impression compared to one who does not maintain eye contact. Persuasion is a component of communication in some instances and eye contact boosts this. Eye contact illustrates confidence and seriousness in what one says to their audience, and when this is done correctly, listeners are likely to follow an idea.


In conclusion, communication is not complete when only verbal cues are considered. No-verbal aspects such as eye contact require equal, and sometimes more, attention to ensure a message is effectively passed across. Eye contact is the difference between regular communicators and extraordinary ones, as this component illustrates mastery and confidence. A speaker who maintains eye contact oozes confidence and demonstrates an impeccable understanding of their craft. Eye contact also ensures a speaker can be more persuasive, attractive, and memorable to their audience. This is an essential component of both official and casual communication forums that boost understanding. Greater engagement of the audience is achieved through the use of eye contact. The authority of the speaker is asserted through eye contact and indicates effectiveness in their means of communication. The concentration of the speaker is also boosted by eye contact as the audience convinces them to continue on a similar trajectory or change tactics. Eye contact is a skill that can be improved with practice and which requires regular reinforcement by an individual through both casual and official communication forums.

Works Cited

Cañigueral, Roser, and Antonia F. de C. Hamilton. “Being Watched: Effects of an Audience on Eye Gaze and Prosocial Behaviour.” Acta Psychologica, vol. 195, 2019, pp. 50–63.

Croes, Emmelyn A.J., et al. “The Role of Eye-Contact in the Development of Romantic Attraction: Studying Interactive Uncertainty Reduction Strategies during Speed-Dating.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 105, 2020, p. 106218.

Fiorella, Logan, et al. “Instructor Presence in Video Lectures: The Role of Dynamic Drawings, Eye Contact, and Instructor Visibility.” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 111, no. 7, 2019, pp. 1162–1171.

Haataja, Eeva, et al. “The Relation between Teacher-Student Eye Contact and Teachers’ Interpersonal Behavior during Group Work: A Multiple-Person Gaze-Tracking Case Study in Secondary Mathematics Education.” Educational Psychology Review, 2020, Web.

Lanthier, Sophie N. “The Effect of Socially Communicative Eye Contact on Memory.” University of British Columbia, 2018.

Palmer, Colin J., et al. “Is There a “Zone of Eye Contact” within the Borders of the Face?” Cognition, vol. 220, 2022, p. 104981.

Rogers, Shane L., et al. “Contact Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Eye Contact Illusion.” Perception, vol. 48, no. 3, 2019, pp. 248–252.

Salonen, Visajaani, et al. “Teacher-Student Eye Contacts during Whole-Class Instructions and Small-Group Scaffolding: A Case Study with Multiple Mobile Gaze Trackers.” Proceedings of the Eleventh Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME11), 2019. Freudenthal Group & Freudenthal Institute, Utrecht University.

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PsychologyWriting. "Does Eye Contact Play Any Role in Communication?" April 4, 2023.