How to control an audience with your eyes

New eye-tracking studies reveal important tips for public speakers.

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Just think of the hypnotist who gets audience members to quack like ducks. Or motivational speakers who compel audience members to walk across hot coals. Or jazz musician Bobby McFerrin, who gets rooms full of people to sing aloud simply by bouncing silently on the stage.

I recently read a terrific blog post by James Breeze, the founder of the Sydney, Australia-based technology and design firm Objective Digital. His firm, working alongside Tobii Technology, has conducted some fascinating eye tracking research.

Their work might just hold some fascinating lessons for public speakers who want to guide their audiences’ behavior through their eyes.

James did an experiment in which 106 people were shown an advertisement for diapers. The image above shows the “simple gaze path,” or the order in which people looked at information in the ad. He writes:

“The blobs are where the person has fixated on the image. You’ll notice the person starts looking in the middle of the page … and then goes straight to the baby face.”

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