Apple is once again featuring prominently in news headlines following the announcement of its new iPad 2. This latest must-have device is thinner, lighter, and faster, with increased battery life and a new “smart cover” that increases functionality.

But perhaps one of the most interesting attributes of the new iPad is the addition of Apple’s Facetime software to its built-in applications. This makes mobile video chatting more accessible in a larger format than previously available, with the iPad screen providing a near life-size representation of the human face.

While Facetime is a fairly rudimentary video communications platform, its increasing presence will mean that more and more people will be adapting to the idea of adding video to their voice communications. This is interesting not just from a technology standpoint, but also in terms of human behavior. Voice is a great indicator of mood and comprehension, but when you add the possibility for eye contact and observation of facial expressions the value of an exchange between participants is elevated significantly. Or, as Apple itself elaborates, “The big, beautiful iPad display is a great place for a face, because you can really see it. Not a smile or laugh goes unnoticed.”

Most presenters in business and education are well aware of the value of eye contact. But this important function of communication goes further than merely ensuring your audience is engaged. Eye contact can also make up for all manner of inhibitors to an effective meeting or collaboration. Specifically because, according to presentation skills consultant Debbie Bailey, “Good eye contact cuts physical distance in half, helps you connect with your audience on a personal level, and invites audience members to participate in your presentation.”

If eye contact can cut distance in […]