Great Southern Conference Celebrates 15 Years
By Claudia Stahl
It was almost a homecoming for this year's Great Southern Occupational Therapy Conference, held Oct. 23-25.
The GSOTC returned to its birthstate, Georgia, for its 15th anniversary. Although Atlanta was the conference's first host city, Augusta was just as gracious, accommodating more than 700 conferees with charm and grace at The Radisson Riverfront Hotel.
After enjoying a tasty breakfast compliments of Novacare Inc., therapists gathered for the conference welcome. Reba Anderson, GSOTC chair, thanked local conference chair Teru Creel and the local committee for its "Georgia hospitality," during the conference welcome on Thursday morning. GSOTC Secretary Suze Dudley announced the Alice C. Jantzen award for the best student paper submissions. This year's winners were graduate student Paula Knalvton (who was not on-hand to receive the award) and undergraduate Sally Ann Winters.
The prestigious Great Southern Horn Blower's Award for years of service to the GSOTC went to Rick Carrasco, who was ill and unable to attend the conference this year, so the audience sent him some positive, healing energy by standing up and cheering.
The rising level of energy grew even more charged during the keynote address, given by Anne B. Freedman, president of Speak Out Inc. Freedman gave therapists her recipe for making a "Knock Your Socks Off" Presentation. Her advice applies to making a speech in front of a packed auditorium, presenting workshops, participating in interviews with the press, giving in-services, and everything in between.
With an array of amusing props and anecdotes, Freedman demonstrated the three powerful ingredients in a successful speech: "Science, Art and Law of Averages." Holding aloft a plastic sea gull in flight, she delivered the first rule of public speaking: "Thou shalt not wing it."
The attention span of adults in an audience is only five to six minutes (sometimes less) at a time, so it is critical for speakers to AIDA (grab attention, create interest, create desire and call for action). Not unlike therapy, "you don't want (the audience) to take the information and put it under their pillows. You want them to do something with it, because they learn by doing, they get better by doing," Freedman said. "Our challenge is to create that desire."
There were surprisingly few run-ins with "the law of averages" at this GSOTC. Anderson said the conference went as smoothly as one could. The workshops and exhibit hall were located on one floor, and the temperature in the rooms was neither too hot nor too cold, "and I don't think there was one audiovisual horror story," Anderson said.
When therapists were not in one of the conference's 90 technical sessions, arranged by order of symposia in every area of practice, they browsed the exhibit hall where there were more than 60 presenters. Attendees and exhibitors mingled on a social level at the "Meet Your Neighbor Reception" on Thursday evening, which featured hot foods and hors d'oeuvres, as well as the ever-popular raffles.
Occupational therapy assistant student Jennifer Carter of South West Virginia Community College in Bluefield, VA, was the lucky winner of Healthsouth's $500 student award.
In pursuit of leisure, therapists strolled or jogged along the river walk behind the hotel. The scenic path wended its way to a variety of interesting restaurants and eclectic shops. Browsing antiques and artisans' shops is a popular pastime for visitors of charming Augusta.
Next year's GSOTC will be held Oct. 22-24, at the Grand Casino Hotel in Biloxi, MS.
The Great Southern Occupational Therapy
Oct. 23-25, 1997