Convention goers clapping and giving a standing ovation after a banquet speech.
Blog Date: 
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Melissa Riccobono

The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is an experience like none other. From the informative seminars on all types of topics to the excitement of being surrounded by more than 2,000 other blind people. From hearing so many canes tapping and guide dogs working, to the energy of the room on the day of opening session.

All of these experiences cannot be captured easily in words, nor can they fully be appreciated unless you are there in person. However, for a variety of reasons, being there is not always possible.

Luckily we now have the option of listening to the convention online, which at least means you can hear various presentations and catch some of the excitement.

But rather than listening to the entire event alone, why not host a banquet listening party? The banquet, of course, is the highlight of our convention. Attendees sit down and share a meal with others. They listen to an inspiring speech and share their thoughts about the speech. The banquet is about connecting.

Take advantage of this opportunity for connection and fellowship by hosting a banquet listening party of your own.

This year, the banquet will be held Sunday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

What You Will Need

  1. Good Company: Invite others to share in your banquet listening party. You might invite someone you know who has attended many conventions and just cannot attend this year, or you might invite someone who has never attended a convention before. You might invite sighted neighbors or family members so they can listen and learn. You might invite five or ten people, or you might be more comfortable with just one or two others. No matter who you invite, having someone to share the banquet with is an essential part of a banquet listening party.
  2. Good Food: The food can be as simple or as fancy as you would like. Cook a gourmet dinner or order pizza. Provide all of the food yourself or have others bring a dish to share. In 2012, when I hosted my own banquet listening party, I held a chocolate tasting after dinner. It was delicious, and made the evening a little more special.
  3. Good Internet Connection and Speakers: Of course you will need the ability to tune in to the online stream of the banquet. I would suggest tuning in right as the banquet is starting so you can enjoy the full experience. Of course, on the West Coast, this will mean your banquet listening party will have to begin around 4:00 p.m. There are many presentations at the banquet and, although the speech is definitely the highlight, the other awards given are certainly a valuable part of the experience.
  4. Good Discussion: Truly talk to those you invite to your party. Connect with them. After the speech is over, talk about it. Our national convention is filled with love, and this love is tangible, particularly in the banquet hall.

We hope your banquet listening party is full of love as well, that it will create great memories for you and your guests, and that attending the banquet virtually this year will inspire you and your guests to do all you can in order to be at the banquet in person next year.

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