If there's one thing you should do to evoke an executive presence at work, it's making eye contact when you speak, according to various studies. Eye contact is an important nonverbal social cue because it projects confidence, self-esteem and assertiveness.
"When someone is talking to you, make sure you look them in the eye," says career coach Becky Berry. She adds that looking down or looking around makes you look nervous.
Overall, adults only make eye contact 30 to 60 percent of the time when speaking to individuals or groups, communications-analytics company Quantified Analytics tells The Wall Street Journal. However, they should really be making eye contact 60 to 70 percent of the time to create an emotional connection.
According to a study from the Idiap Research Institute, eye contact shows a person's social hierarchy and dominance in a conversation. The study found that people who are at the top of the pecking order tend to look longer at their subject and they also receive more eye contact in return.
The power of eye contact can even be seen with inanimate objects. Cornell University researchers showed 65 undergraduate students two images. One was of the Trix rabbit on a box of cereal looking down and avoiding eye contact. The other image was of the rabbit looking upward and making direct eye contact with passerby.