Most of us realize the importance of making eye contact and focusing entirely on the person with whom we’re speaking….and the impact it can have on that person. And, probably, many of us often forget to do it, or, when you’re a teacher and having to supervise an entire classroom of students, are not able to do it.
At the recommendation of Jim Peterson, a talented vice-principal at our school about whom I’ve previously written, I (and other teachers) try to take a few minutes now and then from our free period and pull students out of their regular classes to try to have these kinds of conversations (after making pre-arrangements with their teacher, of course), and it has worked out quite well.
Michael Ellsberg has written a good post offering advice and techniques to help people remember to make that kind of eye contact and to “be present” with whom you’re speaking. It’s definitely worth a visit.
He uses a short clip of a town hall meeting during the 1992 Presidential campaign as a model, contrasting the styles of George Bush and Bill Clinton. I’m embedding it here, but Ellsberg has a good analysis of it in his post that I’d encourage you to read.