On Friday, I gave a workshop at my county's library district about social media and how libraries can take advantage of it. I recently set up the Facebook page for the library I work for and have been exploring Twitter, blogging, Youtube, and Flickr as they relate to libraries.
As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous before the workshop. My nervousness didn't stem from the fact that I'd be talking in front of a group, which I know bothers a lot of people. I was worried that my knowledge would fall short or that I wouldn't speak loudly enough for everyone to hear and follow along. As I thought about it (I'm a natural worrier, so it was somewhere in my mind all the time), I'd worry that I wouldn't hear people asking questions or trying to get my attention. I remembered being in classrooms and the teacher calling on students. I was closer to them than the teacher was and yet most of the time I wouldn't hear the question. If that was the case how could I handle questions at a workshop?
I am sure many people have similar worries and I wanted to share my experience in hopes it will help you, too.
The workshop I held ended up being small. I believe there were 11 or 12 of us in the room total. Each person had their own laptop to do hands-on work with, and I had a laptop running either a slideshow or a browser. I was at the front of the room and did a short 15 minute overview before letting everyone have some hands-on experience.
And I can tell you, it went so well. I was nervous, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
During the hands-on portion I moved to the back of the room so that I could see everyone's screens and be more accessible for people. I did at times have a hard time hearing people asking for me, but I tried to keep an eye on everyone so that if they were getting my attention I would realize it.
I didn't explain that I am deaf at first, just because I didn't see it as relevant. But I did use my blog as an example of blogging and how Facebook and Twitter can be linked from blogs. I can see in other situations - especially with a much larger group - it might be useful to explain beforehand. Then people will know not to get irritated and that they need to get your attention another way.
After giving this presentation I found this page with tips on communicating for deaf people. It's refreshing to see this advice since most of the results from my Googling were the opposite - how hearing people can communicate with deaf/hard of hearing people. I recommend taking a look at it next time you feel a bit nervous about talking in front of people.