First Timer Information
First Timer Information
The four days that you spend at our Annual Conference will change your life…for the better! You will have an opportunity to interact with others who share the same struggles and joys of stuttering. Ask anyone who has attended an NSA conference in the past and you will hear stories of realizations, facing fears, good times, tears, triumphs, and the formation of lifelong friendships.
We know that attending our conference for the first time can be both overwhelming and exciting. We know what you might be thinking: ‘I won’t know anyone!’ ‘Can I afford it?’ ‘What goes on during the conference (will it just be boring lectures the whole time?)?’ ‘I’m just plain scared!’ We’ve heard it all, and have the answers to put your mind at ease.
What’s truly amazing about the conference is that you are able to be in one place with so many people who share a common bond. Everyone at the conference is there either because they stutter, they love someone who stutters or they are interested in learning more about stuttering. Although only 1% of the population stutters, when you’re at the NSA conference, people who stutter are in the majority.
Our conferences are a safe, accepting place where you can be completely open about your stuttering. Everyone at the conference accepts your stuttering and even better, understands it. Our conferences welcome not only people who stutter of all ages, but also speech language pathologists, research specialists and other leading experts in the field and the loved ones of people who stutter. Stuttering brings us together, and the NSA keeps us together, so what are you waiting for? Check out our 2014 Conference Brochure and then register today online or via mail/fax/email (PDF)!
What to Bring?
If you’ve been through a typical Washington D.C. summer, you know that it will be humid – but well air conditioned inside the conference hotel! Pack appropriate clothing so that you will be comfortable throughout your entire conference experience. During the day, casual attire is acceptable (jeans, slacks, shorts). Evening attire is casual as well, however, our Saturday Night Banquet is your chance to dress up! If you have signed up for any of our tours or excursions, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes or appropriate attire to ensure you are comfortable on the tour.
What Does an Average Conference Day Look Like?
Workshops begin on Wednesday at noon and end Saturday afternoon. Morning workshops begin daily at 8:30 am and run throughout the day, with a lunch break scheduled midday. Lunch is available on-site at the hotel or you may decide to venture out to one of the local restaurants. Our afternoon workshops start up again after lunch and end around 4:00 pm (specific start/end times will be on your Day at a Glance schedule and in the Conference Program). Workshops are typically 1 hour and 15 minutes with a 15 minute break between them. There is no need to sign up in advance to attend workshops; simply arrive and enjoy the workshop!
Recommended Workshops/Events to Attend
We work hard to ensure that First-Timers feel right at home from day one. Many of our workshops/events are geared towards First-Timers, and we recommend that you attend as many as possible to make the best out of your conference experience.
- First Timers Workshop - Thursday, July 3, starting at 9:00 am: Come meet other First Timers and become acquainted with the busy conference schedule at this fun, informative gathering. There will be a small presentation on the history of the NSA, a recap of some of the great things that we have to offer, and what stuttering is in a “nutshell,” as well as tips on how to ensure that your experience at the conference is the best it can be.
- First Timers Happy Hour – Wednesday, July 2, starting at 8:00 pm: We will have designated areas set up in the bar to ensure that our First Timers always have somewhere to mingle with other First Timers as well as conference regulars. There are lots of other places in the hotel to have great conversations with the other attendees. Just look for anyone who is wearing a conference nametag!
- First Timers Lunch* - Thursday, July 3, from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm: This lunch is held onsite and gives First Timers an opportunity to continue socializing with other First Timers as well as conference regulars. *All expenses paid for by each attendee – $8.00 for a sandwich, chips, and a beverage
- Speed Talking – Friday, July 4 (time TBA): Come join us for this fun and fast-moving workshop that will allow you to speak to at least 15 people and make a few new friends! This is a great opportunity to practice introductions and social conversation. During the speed talking workshop we set up two rows of chairs facing each other and one side will rotate every three minutes so that participants are always speaking to someone new. It’s just like speed dating but without the dating! We will provide topics for discussion at each chair to get things going and then the conversation will take on a life of its own!
- Closing Ceremony – Saturday, July 5, from 2:45 pm to 3:30 pm: The culmination and celebration of the entire conference happens here!
- Live Auction and Banquet – Saturday, July 5 starting at 5:30 pm: Our Saturday Night Banquet and Live Auction is one of the most highly anticipated events of the NSA conference. Not only is our live auction one of our largest fundraisers, but also a much-loved conference staple where you will have the opportunity to bid on luxury vacations, priceless handcrafted works, and other one-of-a-kind pieces. Join us starting at 5:30 pm for a cocktail reception, followed by the catered dinner and auction at 6:00 pm. Dress is typically semi-formal but please dress in whatever is comfortable to you.
- Silent Auction – The NSA Silent Auction consists of items at all price points will also be returning to the conference this year. This ongoing event is another chance to bid on exciting treasures and contribute to the NSA at the same time. Talk about a win-win situation!
Tips and Hints
For the time you are here, you are in the majority. This is a safe place to stutter, push out of your comfort zone, speak more, and introduce yourself to others. Everyone with a conference nametag is here for the same reason – because they stutter, their child stutters, their spouse or significant other stutters, or they are professionals who help people who stutter. No one will laugh when you stutter or wonder what is going on, because they understand, they get it, and they accept you! Take the time that you are here to speak freely and be yourself, and most importantly, have fun!
Here are a few tips to make your first conference a huge success:
- Talk as much as you can! If you can do it here you can do it anywhere. While you’re here, challenge yourself, empower yourself, and push yourself out of your comfort zone by speaking more than usual and introducing yourself to as many people as you can.
- Make sure to participate in workshops, open microphone sessions, meals and outings with other people, chats at the bar, and conversations that pop up throughout the conference. Participate in as much as you can and talk to as many people as you can talk to.
Collect as many e-mails, phone numbers, and Facebook names as you can. Keeping in touch throughout the year acts as a lifeline. One of the best parts of coming to the conference year after year is knowing that you will see the friends you have kept in touch with throughout the year!
- Most importantly – keep your nametag on! Wearing a nametag with a First Timer badge ensures that everyone will stop to say hi and ask about your story.
How to Keep That ‘Conference Feeling’ Going All Year
You will leave the conference feeling empowered with your stuttering and with yourself, and wanting more. Here are just a few ways to keep in touch the rest of the year:
- Attend local chapter meetings. If there is not a chapter nearby then start one. Contact the NSA office for more details.
- Like the NSA Facebook page. Check out one of the NSA groups on Facebook – NSA Parents, NSA TwST, NSA 20 Somethings.
- Join one of the many on-line support groups to talk via e-mail with other people who stutter and with those who support people who stutter
- Keep in touch with people you have met at the conference, through e-mail, phone calls, texts, and Facebook.
Visit the NSA website often for the latest news regarding stuttering and the NSA!