Tips for Making the Most of the ASHA Convention


This year is the 75th Annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention.

There will be 12,000+ people there. 300+ exhibits. 1000+ poster presentations.  700+ oral seminars. 32 short courses. Don’t forget about the First Timers’ Orientation, the Awards Ceremony, and NSSLHA Day Events! Oh and breathing and eating and sleeping!

…I’m feeling a smidge overwhelmed.

Just a smidge.

So, I thought to myself, “Self, how on earth are you going to handle all this business?” And the answer was clear.

Ask other people.

Man, I love other people. Other people have so much knowledge and they can be so darn helpful. Other people are the best.

So here is what other SLPs said when I spastically asked them, “What is your favorite part of ASHA Conventions? What do you look forward to most? What tips do you have for ASHA first timers? How do I get to be like you when I grow up? Do I have anything in my teeth? What day of the week is it? Do you know my name? Because I forgot. What was I asking you again?”

Guys, grad school is rough.


What is your favorite part of ASHA Conventions?

  • “Probably my favorite part was going out for pizza with our professors.”
  • “I love the  Honors ceremony—for the Honors and their recipients, in particular the Annie Glenn award, being able to hear Annie or John Glenn, and the amazing recipients–James Earl Jones, Ben Vereen, Julie Andrews, Joey McIntyre to name a few!  How wonderful it has been seeing them and hearing them present to us.”
  • “Seeing old friends and colleagues–we ended up scattered all over the country.”
  • “Technical sessions and poster sessions are some of my favorites–nice to have the opportunity to hear new findings, and visit with the presenters as well.”
  • “My favorite part is definitely the Awards Ceremony.  When they show the videos of the people who are getting the Honors, I almost always cry.  Of course, given my stage of life, it’s becoming more common for them to be friends and colleagues so that makes it really special! For example, this year Marc Fey and Gloria Kellum are getting the Honors, and both of them have been important mentors to me throughout my career.”
  • “I love hearing the Fellows announced because they represent the present and future of the association.”
  • “It’s great to see the Editors’ Awards and hear about the impressive research that’s going on in our field.”

What tips do you have for first timers?

  •  “Get to the meetings early!  Sometimes the rooms fill quickly, and there will be fire code limits of how many people can be in the room.”
  • “Look at handouts before you go—it really helps you prepare for the sessions.”
  • “Wear comfortable shoes!”
  • “I wish so badly that I had really studied the lectures being offered and chosen ahead of time exactly what I wanted to go to!  I was pretty overwhelmed the first time, and that led to going to some lectures I didn’t exactly enjoy.  I also avoided some of the longer ones, just because they were long, when they might have been super interesting.”
  • “Don’t just go to what your friends go to!  It’s nice to have people to go to lectures with, but sometimes you have to branch out on your own if you want to see something interesting.”
  • “It’s okay if it gets stressful and you don’t want to sit in lectures all day for three days straight.  Take a break, take a long lunch, go shopping.  You’re in San Diego for goodness sake!”
  • “Stalk the SLP Celebrities!”

Do I have anything in my teeth? What day of the week is it? Do you know my name?

  • “Surprisingly you brushed your teeth this morning – congratulations. Today is Friday. Your name is Samantha. Have fun in San Diego.”


NP: Going to California – Led Zeppelin


(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)


Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.


  1. says

    Great post, and quite funny! I totally stalked both Rhea Paul and Teresa Ukrainetz at conventions. I have to remember to bring minimal electronics- just an iPad except the one day I need my laptop- that’s my tip. Also, don’t try to get coffee inside the convention center- get it before you get there.

    And for self-talk- remember not to resent that they will turn most of the men’s rooms into women’s! 😉