An Unexpected Opportunity
Recently, Bold Blind Beauty (BBB) was invited to present at The Level Up High School Conference for students living with sight loss. The conference sponsored by Envision is designed to prepare students to successfully transition from high school to college and career.
Creating a presentation on the topic of “Leadership Development” can be a challenging exercise for the best of us. So the planning process began by asking the event organizers if I could co-present with another BBB representative. While I was capable of presenting on my own, I’ve learned that partnering with others is an essential element to success.
Since joining BBB last year, Nasreen Bhutta has been very instrumental in helping me build a great team of people. So requesting her to co-present with me was as natural as breathing. Together, with a little extra ingenuity, we would design an inclusive virtual delivery to engage our teen audience. As low vision presenters ourselves, the added benefit to our presentation was our shared experience of sight loss with the students. In this scenario, our topic was even more relevant because we modeled leadership in real-life while presenting.
The Best Laid Plans
‘Bone-chilling’ was the phrase that came to mind as we began our presentation. Hearing someone say they can see your notes has to be a speaker’s worst nightmare. Yet, this is exactly what happened when I shared my screen during our video conference.
The path from brainstorming ideas to creating the end product was lined with obstacles. Navigating these hurdles meant looking at them as opportunities where problem-solving would become the resolution. The bottom line was even though we prepared well, our plans went sideways and we easily improvised.
How did improv work in our situation? During the practice session, I wasn’t able to run the presentation full-screen and view my notes simultaneously. The answer was to incorporate this as an authentic example to show the students how to carry on. What we weren’t prepared for, however, was during our talk, the audience could actually see my speaker’s notes. At this point, we did the only thing we could do, Nasreen and I both winged it. Being familiar with our slides allowed us to continue without showing the audience my notes.
Our carefully crafted presentation strategy did not go as planned. Yet I think to some degree it was a better experience for our audience, as well as Nasreen, and I. Since we couldn’t run the slideshow in full-screen mode, we chose to explain each step of the screen sharing process with the students. Tailoring our presentation by explaining our steps to fulfill the needs of an audience living with sight loss enabled all to be engaged.
Life Imitating Art Authentically
It’s no accident that during the live session our actions mirrored our presentation titled “BBB’s 3-Ps To Entrepreneurship.” Every step along the way since starting Bold Blind Beauty it’s always been about authenticity in:
- Planning – where are you going and how are you going to get there?
- Persevering – what does it take to persevere?
- Partnership – what are the benefits of not going it alone?
“Improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another” is an extraordinary mission that can only be fulfilled by extraordinary people. Staying focused on our ‘why’ makes it easy for BBB to sustain our passion for advocacy in everything we do. We believe that people who are blind or low vision are as valuable as those who aren’t. The only difference between those who can see and those who can’t is we do things a little differently. To clearly demonstrate to our young audience how they can achieve their career goals was an extraordinary opportunity.
- The header image is a closeup of a speaker’s microphone looking out into a blurred room full of people.
- A photo grid with two images (one of Steph and one of Nasreen). Both are dressed in black business attire with Steph standing at a podium and Nasreen posed standing for the camera.