Presenting

It turns out there's a lot of work between writing a proposal for something and then bringing that something to life. In preparing for my very first poster presentation, I've come to understand that like with many endeavors, the work you end up doing often seems much different than what you envisioned in your head.

In part, I think this is because the more you dive into something, and the more you think about said something, the greater it changes your own understanding of it.

In my case, I proposed a two-hour workshop which ended up being accepted as a poster. The poster format left me puzzled at first, but once I understood the challenge was for me to distill the heart of my ideas into something that was straight-forward and cohesive, I embraced it.

Another motivating factor? Seeing this on the ASHA Connect Schedule:

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I've spent countless hours researching, writing, editing, re-writing, and researching again, and finally have something I'm proud to have put together. I have more questions at this point than I do answers, but nonetheless I can't wait to share what I've learned.

Taking Chances

For a couple of years now, I've been talking about wanting to develop continuing education workshops. I have loose sketches of ideas in various places, but little in the way of something cohesive. Early this year, I saw a call for proposals for the ASHA Connect conference. I attended this conference for the first time last year under its former moniker, the ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute, and found it be one of my favorite conferences I've attended to date. It's more intimate and less overwhelming than the large convention (which I also love, to be sure), and there's time to really get to know fellow attendees.

Having never submitted a proposal before, I was excited to learn the process and give it a try. I was also very nervous. In the past, I've found that quite often I'm great at visualizing things, but less great at making those things then happen. As a result, having a deadline for submission, as well as a template to help provide an outline, proved to be very helpful. Instead of just letting ideas buzz around my head as I often do, I had something that helped me make sense of the many ideas which have been bouncing around for so long.

I designed my proposal to be a two-hour presentation. One of my current goals is to develop and present day-long workshops, but having to think about a smaller scope was a helpful way to get more focused. I also wanted to be flexible, so when I submitted everything, I offered to have my proposal considered for other formats (in this case, a poster presentation). I did this for two reasons: (1) I thought additional perspectives would be beneficial, and (2) I wanted to have the opportunity to present, and have appreciated how posters offer immediate interaction and discussion.

In late February, I learned that my proposal had not been selected for a presentation. While no feedback is provided regarding what kinds of improvements can be made, I reviewed my proposal and found a few things I felt could improve it. I reworked it and submitted it for the ASHA Convention in November, so am excited to see where it goes.

Then, about two weeks ago, I got word that my proposal was selected as a poster for the ASHA Connect conference in July. I am looking forward to presenting my ideas at one of my favorite conferences, and even more than that, I am eager to see how it resonates with my colleagues there. I couldn't be more honored and excited to take this next step.

My poster will be about making the most of working with interpreters in clinical settings. I'm excited to be discussing two things so dear to me, and which are an everyday part of my work. If you're heading to the conference this summer, come say hello! I have a lot of work to do in the interim, but can't wait to get started.

◆ En Route to #ASHA15

Traveling is always an interesting way to observe both how we communicate with one another, and how stress can impact communication. It can also remind you just how bizarre it can be to interact in worlds we consider familiar.

After arriving to the airport this morning, I found myself standing in line for security in front of an unusual man wearing sunglasses. He was friendly to a fault, and started talking to me despite my not having made eye contact, or even offering a 'good morning'. He wore dark sunglasses, slicked back hair, and carried a bag containing a suit jacket. Instead of a greeting, he said "I only need to show my boarding pass, right?"

We carried on in silence for a while, in part because when I travel, I like to retreat into my thoughts more than interact. Perhaps it's a means to handle the sheer number of people, though perhaps it's also because I hadn't yet had any coffee, so I wasn't feeling terribly social.

After a few minutes, he broke the silence again. "They don't have dog sniffers in Phoneix, do they?"

Setting aside the unusual turns this conversation took, I found myself thinking about my patients. How doe they handle these situations? Do my patients with aphasia try to talk when they travel, and if so, what sort of reception do they receive? What can I do to maximize their success in such situations, even in the early stages of therapy? It's so easy to take such "simple" communciation for granted.

This is a reminder to me that communication, and indeed language, are not simpley words and turns taken. It's the setting, the body language, the mental state of the people you're trying to interact with. It's the events that lead up to your arrival, and also to everyone else's arrival. It's the lights, the sounds, the smells, the stress.

I am on my way to the annual convention to meet my friends and colleagues, and to learn new things. I always look forward to this, and am excited for the advneture ahead.

◆ It's Conference Time Again!

The annual ASHA Convention is coming up in one week, so I’m gearing myself up for traveling, seeing some fantastic colleagues, and learning as much as I can. It hasn’t been long since I last attended a conference, and I’m looking forward to taking the lessons I learned there and bringing them to #ASHA15. The ASHA Convention is, by my rough estimation, just shy of ten times as large as the more intimate ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute (this estimation includes this year’s combination with ASHA Schools). While I think I prefer the intimacy of the smaller conference, I am nonetheless very excited for the convention ahead.

A little prep work can go a long way to ease the stress of such an enormous event. Here’s some things I’m doing this year differently than I have in years past, which I anticipate will make for a smoother and more productive experience.

  1. As I did for the Healthcare and Business Institute, I took the day off Wednesday so I could fly in earlier in the day. The extra time to check in to my hotel, unpack a bit, and explore the area has a huge impact on the experience as a whole. When you have three solid days of learning ahead of you, be good to yourself and don’t start the experience off with so much rushing.

  2. Though I will be tweeting throughout the convention, I will not be live-tweeting my sessions. I also won’t be typing notes on any of my various devices. I love my technology, for sure, but I found such a significant difference in what I took away from my sessions by writing my notes by hand that I will be doing so again. I may write a tweet here and there, for various powerful points during sessions. As always, you can find me tweeting @ProjectSLP.

  3. I have been planning my sessions ahead of time, and giving myself a few options for back-ups if I need. This alone reduces the stress of trying to figure out where to go, freeing up cognitive resources to better attend to what I’m trying to learn. It also has the benefit of making it easier to meet new colleagues along the way.

  4. I’m bringing a small backpack to carry around my convention program, my notebook, some pens, a water bottle, and snacks. I purposely keep the bag small to help keep me from acquiring too many things along the way. The exhibit hall is a wonderful place to visit but the number of papers and freebies really can add up. By making sure I have limited space, I only acquire things I know I will find useful, and it has the added benefit of keeping things simple. As the saying goes, less is more.

Also, if you want to come visit all the #SLPeeps from the internet, do consider joining in at the “unofficial” (non-ASHA-affiliated) tweet-up.

★ ASHA Health Care & Business Institute

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona! I’m attending ASHA’s Health Care & Business Institute, which is a three-day conference covering a variety of clinical and, as the name suggests, business topics. My last convention was in Chicago in 2013 for the large annual ASHA Convention.

I did things differently for this convention than I have for my past conventions:

  1. I took the entire day off to allow for travel. I used to work most of the day and then travel, which always left me tired right out of the gate. Having the whole day off meant I could fly in sooner, and then had time to wander and explore the area a bit before going to check in for the conference.
  2. Being here early also meant I was able to be present for the opening reception. It was lightly attended (I was also there early), but already I’ve had the chance to meet new people and have thoughtful and interesting conversations.
  3. I packed much lighter. This was somewhat easier given both that it’s summer and that it’s Phoenix, but I was careful to pack only what I would need.
  4. While I brought my laptop, I don’t plan on using it to take notes during sessions. I may tweet information from time to time from my phone, but having recently been reading and listening to stories about the big difference between writing notes vs typing them (namely that we tend to transcribe when typing rather than actually processing what we’re hearing in order to write meaningful notes), I decided to bring along a notebook and pen and see if I can tell a difference.

The biggest difference between the ASHA Convention and this one so far is both size and scope. It’s definitely a more intimate setting, and there are far fewer sessions from which to select. However, I appreciate the focus and the various learning “tracks” (there are five themes and one session per theme for each time slot) for helping me decide what I want to learn about. As I’ve been learning to navigate the worlds of home health and outpatient care, there are many things I’m eager to learn.

If you’re interested in following any tweets I might be writing, I’ll be writing them @ProjectSLP and using the hashtag #HCBI15. And if you were curious, I brought my camera along so I could enjoy my hobby while also in an exciting and educational frame of mind. Above are pictured some shots of the Phoenix Convention Center.