She was legally blind.
She could get around okay but people and things were pretty fuzzy. And in June, she came to one of my presentation skills workshops.
I’ll be honest. I was wondering how to approach certain skills with her throughout the day. Oh… for example… eye communication!
How do I help her be perceived as more connected with her audience if she can’t even see them!?
Through observation, I could tell she was a confident, capable woman. With her permission, we went through the group workshop without holding back. When we were practicing extended eye communication, even if she couldn’t focus on her audience’s eyes (she couldn’t see them), we determined she could keep focused in their direction longer. This enhanced the perception of being more connected with them, which was much better than scattered fleeting eye contact.
She committed 100%. And it paid off.
The longer ‘connections’ made her look more confident and relaxed.
It was also a group effort. The other workshop attendees would wave their hands after a certain number of seconds to keep her accountable to the more intentional ‘conversations’ with them.
At the end of the day, I was truly inspired. I couldn’t comprehend her challenge. She had courage to come and even more courage to commit to the skills the same as everyone else. And the group responded in support.
Since then I’ve had two other women with severe disabilities in my workshops. They, too, committed 100% and grew tremendously in their communication skills.
It’s not easy.
Some of us may have physical challenges. Some of us may feel insecure and vulnerable every time we step in front of a group of people because of negative comments replaying in our minds from our school days. From harsh teachers or insensitive family. For some of us, it’s simply outside our comfort zone.
Whatever it may be, there are no excuses.
After watching her that day, I’m convinced we can all overcome our obstacles, fears, and discomforts.
It might not be easy, but it’s possible.