Saturday, 1 August 2015

Meetings and hearing

I’ve just sat through another meeting – about fifteen of us in the room. Could I hear? Only the people immediately beside me.
Is this frustrating?
Do I ever leave a meeting nearly in tears?
Have I asked people to speak up?
Often, and they do for the first sentence. Then it’s back to normal volume.
It amazes me just how good ‘normal’ hearing must be. Even the soft speakers could be heard by everyone – except me. I’m sure I come across as aloof, disinterested, rude, even, when in fact I simply haven’t heard you speak.
It’s incredibly frustrating, not being able to hear in a meeting, and it impacts on my ability to participate and contribute.
Hearing aids do help – somewhat. So does positioning yourself at the table well. I always try to sit in the middle so the sound goes across me. If you sit at one end, you hear the people around you, but the voices from the other end have often faded to quiet by the time they reach you. If I know one person is holding the floor, I will sit near to them, so I hear most of their presentation. We now have a loop in the conference room and if the speaker uses a microphone, I use t-switch to tune in.
I’ve written more about supporting those with a hearing loss in my booklet – Rather a Small Chicken. There are tips specifically for meetings – they may give you some stepping stones to work from.

I’d love to hear what you do, when you have a hearing impairment to maximize your ability to hear.