General tip disclaimer
These do not represent the official opinions of Independence Science and the company does not guarantee that these tips will work in all scenarios. These statements are merely suggestions that one may try in a professional or social setting and may not be valid in given situations under certain variables such as culture, setting, people, and more. If you seek official advice, please find another reputable and/or licensed source of information in the given area.
1. How does a blind and visually impaired person “read the crowd”?
While you may not be able to rely as much on visual cues, there are a plethora of ways to “read the crowd” and understanding what your audience wants. For more information, look up a field of communication known as paralinguistics. This field utilizes things such as tones of voices, how loud the speaker is, the pitch of their voice, and their vocal inflection. All these are things a blind and visually impaired person can pick up on. For example, your audience may sound excited or interested in the topic you are speaking on. The audience may also be loud and upbeat, this can either mean they are excited and chatting eagerly or they are rather annoyed; use loudness in combination with tone to figure out the mood of the audience. If they are more monotone, they be bored or unengaged; likewise, if they are using lots of vocal inflection they may show a greater engagement and willingness to participate. If a crowd is sounding enthusiastic and excited and then immediately fall silent, do not worry, this could just mean they are waiting on you to begin your presentation. If you are still unsure, don’t be afraid to have times for questions or comments at the end of your speech or presentation to get a better feel for the mood and overall attitudes of your audience. Do not be upset if your audience does not seem excited, tones and behaviors vary widely between cultures and locations. Additionally, not all audiences are as eager to hear what others have to say, and this is O.K., it just means that it may not be your target audience. Lack of reception for your topic can be just as useful as total reception as you can tailor your presentation to fit the needs of the audience.
2. When can I bring up new ideas, feedback, suggestions, or other comments in a meeting?
In most meetings, the leader of the meeting will preserve time at the end for questions, comments, and concerns. During this time, it is appropriate to ask or comment on the topic of the meeting or bring up relevant points. Depending on the context and environment of the meeting, it may be O.K. to raise your hand or signal that you have something to say. It is important that unless your culture accepts interruptions that you never directly interrupt the leader or speaker as this can be considered highly rude in most scenarios. In some cases though, interruptions are slightly more acceptable as they mean that you are engaged and actively participating. If you are dealing with people from other cultures and backgrounds, do not get offended if they interrupt you as this is respectful and in some cases normal for their culture.
It is also important that you only bring up relevant topics during a meeting. For example, you can ask questions and make comments pertaining to what the speaker just said and/or will say, propose new ideas depending on the purpose of the meeting, and make any other insights about topics pertaining solely to the meeting. In most cases, it is important that you focus only on the meeting as anything else is not relevant and detracts from the purpose of the meeting. Do not ask things about people’s personal lives, their other tasks and jobs, or anything that does not immediately belong in the meeting. Save these discussions for before and after the meeting.
3. What is some general advice for the BVI community regarding interviews?
When going into an interview it is important to look business casual or business professional. Usually, the term is dress to impress and/or dress for the job you want not the job you have. This means a nice dress, skirt, suit, khakis and a polo shirt, or in some cases some nice jeans and a button up or blouse. Apparel is quite important to those with sight as it shows your professionalism, how attentive you are to small details, and how well you follow or don’t follow the trends set in the current community. Additionally, have your resume and any reference letters printed out. When meeting your interviewer, and any staff and people along the way, maintain a friendly demeanor. If someone introduces themselves to you, introduce yourself as well and offer your hand to shake. They may or may not shake your hand but at least you offered. Answer their questions truthfully and be sure to portray yourself in a good light. Don’t just list your achievements, tell them how they will help benefit the company and your future team. At the end, be sure to thank them in person for their time, ask when you will hear back from them, and again state your level of excitement for beginning your work there. Later that day, or even the next day, shoot them an email with a thank you note again thanking them for their time and willingness to listen as well as highlighting anything you forgot to say and how you can again benefit the company and your new team. Do not write them a long thank you note, make it quick and concise as we must assume they have many other things to do and do not have time to read a thank you story. If you do not hear back from them, politely call back, explain who you are, and ask if you got the job or not.
4. How do I make an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is an introduction of you that is no more than thirty seconds. It is supposed to be done in the time that it takes to ride an elevator. It encompasses things such as a greeting, your name, a little bit about you, an ask of the person you are talking to, and a quick way to set up a future meeting. The introduction is the easiest part as it just requires a “hello, my name is… and I am from/I represent…”. The part where you tell people about you is also relatively simple as it states your credentials, hobbies/interests, and/or current position in a professional setting. You could say something along the lines of “I am the (professional position) at (company name), I do (very brief statement describing your role in the company)”. The ask is a little tricky as you should have a general goal in mind for the person you are introducing yourself to. If you meet a manager at a firm, then you might ask them to meet over a coffee or business lunch to discuss a new position or achieving a goal such as securing funding or a promotion. You might say something like “I was wondering when you would be available to meet over a coffee to discuss (your goal for you and/or your company), would you be available either on (2 convenient dates for you, just in case one does not work)”. Finally, you thank them for their time and say that you look forward to their meeting.
“Hello, my name is Nicholas and I am the director of marketing for Independence Science, an assistive technology company specializing in providing tools to help students with print disabilities. I was wondering if you would be able to meet on January 1st or January 2nd to go over the proposed business partnership. Thank you for your time, it was great meeting you and I look forward to seeing you in January.”