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Tips on Talking to the Public

Very often we are called upon to explain what we do to people who are unfamiliar with our profession. Although it can seem a daunting challenge, people will actually welcome your comments. They consider you the expert. These pointers will help you master any conversation.

Keep it Simple

When talking to the public, speak simply, without using professional jargon. People will appreciate your effort to put complex thoughts into words they can easily understand. Also, be sure to say "occupational therapy" rather than "OT."

Think About What You'll Say

Every time you go before the public, whether it is just one person or a roomful of people, think beforehand about the messages you want to drive home to your audience, and the best ways to communicate those messages. In most cases, making just three main points will be plenty. It allows you to focus the audience's attention on the things that are really important.

Relax, You're the Expert

Although style isn't everything, people will respond best to what you say if your delivery is relaxed and confident. Remember, when it comes to occupational therapy, you're the expert! Chances are slim there will be questions you can't answer. If a question arises you're not comfortable answering, acknowledge the question and either promise to look into it or refer the questioner to another source.

What to Say When Someone Asks "What Is Occupational Therapy?"

Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. This is accomplished through designing strategies for everyday living and customizing environments to develop and maximize potential.

By taking the full picture into account—a person's psychological, physical, emotional, and social make-up—occupational therapy assists people in:

  • Achieving their goals
  • Functioning at the highest possible level
  • Concentrating on what matters most to them
  • Maintaining or rebuilding their independence
  • Participating in the everyday activities that they need to do or that simply make life worth living

It helps individuals design their lives, develop skills, adjust home, school, or work environments, and build health-promoting habits and routines. Occupational therapy uses everyday activities as the means to enable people to thrive. Occupational therapy works to get beyond disability or limitations, creating ways for individuals to live life to its fullest no matter what.

What Does AOTA Do?

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, therapy assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, AOTA's major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential.