Public Speaking for the Hearing Impaired – 3 Tips for Communicating with Confidence for Adults and Children with Hearing Loss
Many people struggle with any type of communication and public speaking. It can be very stressful and daunting and many fear the thought of having to speak with or in front of others. When you have to carry out public speaking with hearing impairment, it can be even worse. However, a hearing impairment certainly shouldn’t stop you from getting up and speaking in front of others – you can be just as confident a speaker as everyone else!
These 3 tips on public speaking for the hearing impaired will help to make this experience less stressful, and you may even find yourself looking forward to it!
Public Speaking for those with Hearing Loss Tip #1: Prepare
Before it is time for you to give your speech, talk or presentation, make sure to contact the venue manager or host. It will give you the opportunity to explain your situation and importantly what you need from then to make it a successful and engaging presentation for both you and the audience. If you would like to use them, ask for a podium and microphone. A podium will give you somewhere to put your notes and a base area for where you should stand. You may also want to ask for a temporary fixed room loop for your presentation, as many venues only have countertop loops which will not work properly in a larger room.
Turn up early to the venue or meeting room and get used to the space. Give yourself plenty of time to sort out the sound with the sound engineers. Establish where the speakers are around the room so that you will be able to hear yourself when you are speaking. Test the sound over and over again until you are entirely happy with it, there is no point starting your presentation until you are completely comfortable.
If you find that a venue has particularly problematic acoustics, think about if you need to change the way you speak to account for it, and just make sure you inform your audience before you start of the difficulties that may occur. You may want to ask them to put their hands up if the sound suddenly changes for them and they can no longer hear you properly. You could also give a large portion of your presentation for people to ask questions in case they missed something.
Public Speaking for the Hearing Impaired Tip #2: Talk to Your Audience Before You Start
Once you have been introduced by your venue host, take a moment to check with the audience that the sound is clear to them too. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to the acoustics with the audience there, after all, they have come to hear you.
Tell the audience about your hearing loss, if they don’t already know, and be clear that you will answer all questions at the end in a dedicated Q&A session. It is no use to you to have people shouting out questions while you are speaking, you won’t be able to hear them, and you may come across as rude or ignoring the audience member.
Public Speaking for the Hearing Impaired Tip #3: Make Provisions for Questions
When you have finished your presentations and move on to your Q&A session, you need to ensure that you have made provisions so that you can clearly hear all questions. There are 2 ways in which you can do this.
One option is to have the host, or another member of the team or venue staff, sit or stand next to you so that you can relay the question if you could not hear it properly from far away.
The other option is to actually take yourself into the audience and stand right next to the audience member asking the question. This option gives you a better connection with members of the audience and, better yet, you are much more likely to hear their question the first time. If, however, you do not hear the question clearly, don’t be afraid to ask for a question to be repeated. It is more important that you give a full, accurate answer than just try and answer what you thought you heard.
If you follow these tips, you can be a successful public speaker with hearing impairment, and you will have the confidence you need to effectively captivate your audience. If you’re interested in improving your public speaking skills, you may be interested in my public speaking resources and workshops. To find out more, click here.