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February 23, 2021

How To Moderate A Panel

Conference season is here! One year into COVID, our gatherings are still confined to the digital world—but most of us are now familiar and comfortable navigating online conferences.

This includes one of my favorite conference events: panels. Panels offer an engaging way to tap into the experience and insight of subject matter experts. Great panels are informative and dynamic. Each panelist has the opportunity to shine while contributing to a larger group conversation that captures the diverse nature of differing perspectives.

Well, that’s what a great panel can be. There are also...not so great panels.

As a professional, I have attended not-so-great panels. As a communication therapist, I have worked with many clients who have been panelists on not-so-great panels and told me of their woes after the event. 

One panelist hogged all the speaking time. There was no moderation. The moderator talked over the panelists or even argued with the panelists. The panelists didn’t have responses to the questions or seemed uncertain about what they were supposed to say. 

Who’s responsible for this? The moderator.

Moderating is an art and a skill, but it is also very much a science. Inexperienced moderators can create successful, rewarding panel experiences for both speakers and audience members by completing a series of very basic tasks. Surprisingly, many moderators (even experienced moderators) don’t do this, leaving even the most illustrious of panel speakers to flounder.

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December 15, 2020

Training and Culture: A COVID-Era Case Study

2020 taught us what is possible in a virtual work world. When it comes to training, how does virtual compare to IRL? A case study from 2020.

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November 19, 2020

The Art of Political Small Talk

The general rule for small talk is you can’t talk about politics. However, COVID-19 and the 2020 election have flipped this upside down.

Small talk often begins by talking about the shared environment—commenting on the weather, discussing upcoming holidays, etc. When we are talking through masks or over Zoom and experiencing an election of historic proportions, it’s a little hard to avoid the elephant in the room. 

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September 21, 2020

Common Unethical Employment Practices in Speech-Language Pathology

Congratulations on graduating, CF-SLP! Welcome to the CFY job search, the first gauntlet of your new career. The good news is, getting that CFY job is something you only have to do once.

...well, hopefully once. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who take CFY jobs that turn out to be miserable, to the point that they decide to quit and find another CFY job to finish out the fellowship period. You know how much the CFY hunt sucks, so it really says something when a person decides to jump ship and put themselves through the wringer again.

New clinicians often struggle to determine if a job offer is reasonable, and if an employer seems decent. In many cases, the CFY is your first experience ever with a professional-class job, where the expectations and standards are different from positions like retail, hospitality service, or working at summer camps. 

I will say this as politely and professionally as I can: a lot of SLP employers are crap. The quality of clinical service delivery may be outstanding, the practice may be decades-old and have multiple locations, and the clients may report high satisfaction. Sadly, when it comes to what is good for the practice, what is good for the clients, and what is good for the clinicians...the clinicians are prioritized dead last (if even considered at all). Clinics can get away with this because there is a constant supply of naive, eager, and debt-ridden CFs who graduate every year that can be reliably recruited and discarded as needed.

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July 22, 2020

How to Speak 2020

This post is for anyone who gets overwhelmed by headlines, Instagram stories, and tweets that use all kinds of social terms you aren't familiar with. You want to ask questions, but are afraid of saying something wrong in the process. Here's what you should know before you download "Social Justice" on Duolingo.


“Katie, you know what makes me so angry?” My passionate teenage client had just arrived, the conversation ready to explode out of him before he had even sloughed off his backpack.

“What?”

“People using the wrong pronouns! Like, I have a bunch of friends who have updated their pronouns, and it’s like, cool. I use their new pronouns. And my other friends, they all use the new pronouns too. You know what I’ve noticed, it’s adults who don’t use the right pronouns. And they make all these excuses, like ‘Oh I’m trying,’ ‘Oh it’s hard to change habits’, whatever. Like, bullshit. It’s not that hard. Just be a decent person, shit!”

“That’s a pretty interesting observation.” I paused. “I have that same problem, too. I am trying, but I mess up a lot.”

He blinked, confused. “Wait, what? You?”

“Yeah. I think you’re spot on about adults versus younger people. It is a lot harder to change those verbal patterns when you’re older. I’ve noticed the difference in my brain now, back from when I was a teenager. Even with the work that we do at speech IRL now, I am really clumsy with pronouns. You’re still right, of course—it is no excuse, it’s a reminder that I need to dedicate more time to practice. But adult brains...we’re very slow at changing patterns like this.”

His body language softened. “Hmph. I guess. But it’s still wrong.”

“Yes, that’s absolutely true,” I agreed. “It’s not fair or right to those on the receiving end. So, support your friends who are dealing with people like me. And make sure you enjoy your adaptable brain while you have it.”


In the era of memes, tweets, angry acronyms and eponymous insults, the words we use mean more in 2020 than ever before. As this client pointed out, we’re all making changes to the way we talk about certain things—especially this year—because our society as a whole is changing. It was easy for me to empathize with his frustrations because I’ve had my own moments of disbelief and impatience with others who aren’t adjusting as quickly as I’d like them to. 

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June 24, 2020

Shy or Silent: Tips for Speaking up in Groups Post-Quarantine

by Rachel Muldoon, MSc, CCC-SLP

As long as it took many of us to get acclimated to working from home and practicing social distancing over the past few months, the tide is about to turn. After loneliness, zoom fatigue, and other effects of isolation, we may start to experience a kind of disorientation when we encounter larger groups of people and try to navigate conversations with more than one or two participants. Add in concerns about social distancing, and you may find yourself so distracted by reading social cues and keeping a safe distance that it becomes difficult to follow what’s being said at all, much less interject with your own thoughts and opinions.

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May 20, 2020

How to make the most of video chats and avoid Zoom fatigue

Video conferencing apps like Zoom have become a daily life staple, for work, play, and personal connection. As we adapt to a socially distanced lifestyle and routine, this medium of communication is getting harder for many, not easier. “Zoom fatigue” is real. Video-based communication requires more intense focus and attention than face-to-face communication. We have to filter out pauses, glitches, background noise and other distractions while processing what others are saying. Your brain does all this receptive processing first, and then you need to determine what to do with that information or how to respond. If you are feeling drained and slogging through your days at the computer, you are definitely not alone. More time to adjust won’t make you less exhausted.

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April 20, 2020

Mindful Communication

So many things happen in a moment of communication: expressing an original idea or a concern, making a promise, opening up a possibility, setting a boundary, and more. When a negative thought stops you from speaking, there’s usually a lot more behind that unspoken thought that gets kept inside—or that comes out in a reactionary and unintentional way. At speech IRL, we see this acutely in people who come to us for nearly every form of communication therapy. Anxiety and shame around speech patterns keeps them from speaking. Ultimately, speaking is the only way to practice communication skills and gain confidence; avoidance perpetuates the insecurities. We have found that infusing traditional speech therapy with mindfulness is a crucial ingredient for nearly all of our clients, from stuttering to executive functioning, gendered communication, professional communication, and more.

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April 17, 2020

Executive Function In Fatigue And Fear

Is it realistic to recreate some semblance of a “normal” work environment? What should you expect of your team? How much of your own uncertainty do you share? How do you maintain your executive functioning ability, when you’re drowning in executive fatigue?

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March 21, 2020

Connecting during COVID: the new IRL

Hi friends. Here we are. 

How are you doing?

I was honored that the New York Times proclaimed the demise of our humble practice this week, in an article titled There Is No More IRL Now. “The biggest void,” the author writes, “is connection.”

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8 S. Michigan Ave, Suite 812 
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

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8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812 
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave     Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services