Earlier this summer I was invited to attend a meeting with two others for one of my volunteer groups but initially wasn’t given the purpose for the meeting even when I asked. The other two wanted to ask for my help and felt it was better to explain why when we met face-to-face, as the situation was complicated. Until I found this out I was actually of two minds whether to participate or not. What on earth is this I wondered?
It took a while before the light bulb came on. Those of us with hearing impairments so often can’t assess a situation because we can’t hear. We don’t know what is going on and that makes us feel not just out of the loop, but often vulnerable and sometimes even rather stupid. We feel that we are the only person in the room who doesn’t know what is happening. That was how I felt.
Then I remembered part of an old boiler plate speech I used to give to groups of people with hearing impairments. In this speech, I shared my experiences growing up deaf. One of the positive experiences I talked about was how I discovered public speaking in my salad days and what a difference it made.
Public speaking is a great way for us to build confidence and feel comfortable in a group. We so often feel out of control because we can’t hear. But when we give a speech, we’re the ones doing the talking! We control the situation and can even arrange for questions from the audience to be written down rather than shouted out. I’ve done that on numerous occasions in fact. But the big advantage in my mind is the way others perceive you. Instead of the often quiet, non-participating individual in a group because you can’t get what is being said, you become the expert everyone wants to hear. Ironic isn’t it.
So if you are looking for a way to boost your confidence – whether you have a hearing loss or not – try public speaking. Take it from me – it works!