One 19-year-old client of our Hope Alive program, Michael, is a talented artist who has the ability to speak but struggles to sustain a conversation. We created the opportunity for him to experience a “business meeting” with a local entrepreneur in need of some fabric design work.
With the help of his “coach,” Michael put together his very first resume, which provided him a script for structuring the conversation. They assembled a portfolio of his work, examined fabric samples, and engaged in role-play practice every day for weeks.
Michael learned the meaning of “small talk” – weekend activities and weather are permissible topics; recounting episodes of Barney & Friends are not. He learned the purpose of “contact information.” He rehearsed reading body language cues to determine when the meeting was coming to a close. Much to his disappointment, he gained the understanding that“Do you have any questions?” does not mean “Do you have ANY questions?”
To maximize potential success, we also armed our entrepreneur friend with a script of her own, full of suggestions about what Michael might expect her to say.
The meeting was an experience of hope in action. You could watch Michael’s brain at work as he juggled remembering to smile and make eye contact as well as to speak in full sentences. You could see the businesswoman strain to speak slowly and clearly and to provide plenty of positive feedback. What a special time to see connections being made … on a myriad of levels!
In the end, Michael put his own special spin on the interview as he went off-script with his closing remark to our short-haired entrepreneur. He shook her hand, smiled appropriately, and said enthusiastically, “I love your boy hair!”