Now, when I was handed the microphone, I was told that I could sit down comfortably on the chair while giving the talk. I chose to stand as I knew from past experiences standing would make me more at ease and relaxed. Moreover, this would provide me freedom to ‘walkabout’ and checked the reaction and response from the audience during my talk. I shall always remember the first few moments, standing and looking out in the dark, despite knowing fully well that the hall was bright and well lit up. Standing tall while sharing my experiences with this special group of friends, I was looking and glancing all over the hall, not seeing faces but hearing voices. When I started to introduce myself, I could hear the silence and this gave me the signal that the crowd was giving me their attention. With confidence, I shared my first topic on how I had coped with my loss of sight, and going forward with life during the past 12 months, making choices and decisions, relearning new skills and making new friends.
During the talk it dawned on me than I did miss seeing the body language and facial expressions/reactions of the audience as this would normally helped me to amend or add more ’juices’ to my talk. Standing while giving a talk, also allowed one an authority over the audience and taking charge, so to speak. I was glad that I made the decision to speak from my heart and my talk proceeded well.
Being a graduate of Automotive Engineering, I was able to share some information on cars with this group of blind audience who will not have the opportunity of steering a car in their life. It was a challenge for me to explain in the simplest layman’s terms about the car’s technical descriptions, how the car engine work, etc. It was certainly an eye opener for the audience, even for the sighted volunteers, as I was told later. I had to be on the same wavelength as the audience in order to explain and more importantly, get them to understand, appreciate and learn some basic facts about cars in general. I could hear all the oohs! and aahs! I was moved by these sounds of positive engagements, indicating the audience attention to my talk. The intelligent questions asked caught me by surprise as they were from people who had never driven before. I was very glad to have answered all the questions to their satisfaction.
At the end of my presentation, gauging from the excitement and response from the audience, I knew that I had done a satisfactory job, my first public speaking in the dark, an art that still has to be fine tuned and lots more to learn. Personally, this invaluable experience is another milestone in my quest of moving forward in life. Another barrier crossed, another skill relearned.
More challenging times ahead!