Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public Speaking in the Dark....

“Good morning!” I said to the attendees at the Elderly Club gathering at the Malaysian Association for the Blind. As I was walking to the front of hall I was told by one of the committee members that there were about 50 people in the audience. “We are all here today because we chose to come, thus, starting off my talk about choices and decisions in life, leading to the other interesting topic on ‘How cars work’. Yes, I was a guest speaker at the event. I accepted the invitation to give a talk and I knew that, to me personally, this was going to be a test and a challenge, as part of my personal rehabilitation program in regaining my confidence in public speaking following the sudden loss of my sight in January 2008.

“How am I going to prepare and remember the contents of my talk; how am I going to gauge the reaction and response from the crowd?” I simply could not find an answer to it and it got me quite concerned over the few days prior to the event day. Nevertheless, I told myself that the show must go on and I would just have to be my normal self and speak from my heart and perhaps, engage the crowd in the talk, making it an informal and a 2 way channel ‘dialogue’.

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!

4 comments:

wernjhien said...

By far the best posting yet...

Wern-Yi said...

I agree!

deanna said...

not the best posting or what, rather the best public speech ever made by your dad! but on second thought, the best will be released on oct 24th. right wern yi?

Brandon said...

Good to see that the very cool posts are starting to come back after a while, the online post absence I presume was due to the making of your new position in MAB.. =)

Congrats and all the best in inspiring MAB to move ahead in the era of technology...