Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘advertising stuttering

It’s amazing to see how many people who stutter are using social media to bolster their confidence and speaking skills.

The rise of Facebook groups for the stuttering community has really spurred people to take and create more opportunities to share a little about themselves in ways that were previously off-limits.

This evening, I strolled over to Stuttering Arena (on Facebook – a closed group with over 14oo members!) and watched several videos of people introducing themselves and stuttering openly on camera. This trend has been going on for months, but I usually don’t have time to watch and listen to more than one or two.

I think it’s amazing that people are taking these risks to open up and share.

It takes a lot of courage to record yourself stuttering and posting it publicly on a social media site.

Kudos to those of you doing so! If you haven’t, would you consider it?

It’s known that most people who stutter don’t stutter when they sing. The brain uses different areas for speech production and singing.

So it was a bit offensive when judges on American Idol told a young man who stutters after singing beautifully during his audition that he should just sing all of the time. Can you imagine singing all the time in everyday communication? Talk about weird and drawing attention to yourself.

Part of that comment was ignorance. The American Idol judges likely haven’t encountered many people who stutter and understandably may not have known how to react. Another judge also finished the contestant’s words before he finished explaining what song he was going to sing. Most people who stutter, including myself, don’t like having their words finished for them.

The stuttering community is all abuzz because we have someone who stutters on national television competing in the popular singing competition. He is “representing!”

The non-stuttering community is all abuzz because he doesn’t stutter when singing and it’s thought to be so amazing.

I think the most important thing here, as shown below, is that Lazaro is stuttering openly and confidently while he pursues his dream. His confidence is what we should focus on, not that he can sing with out stuttering, like most of us can do.

Hopefully, Lazaro will go a long way in the competition so that the American Idol judges, and all the people watching, can learn more about differences. Listen to what he says in addition to how beautifully he sings.


Episode 97 features Chloe Whittaker, who hails from Covington, Washington (near Seattle.) Chloe is 19 years old, attends community college full-time and also works full-time as a veterinary assistant. Wow, talk about busy!

Speaking about her job, you can tell she really loves it, as she says she “helps to save lives.”

Chloe has been involved with the National Stuttering Association (NSA) since she was eight years old. Finding support at such a young age was life changing for Chloe and her family. Listen as Chloe describes the impact the NSA has had on her life, as well as the four+ years she spent as a member of the Teen Advisory Council (TAC.)

We have a great conversation about the unpredictable nature of stuttering, the merits of advertising, the experience of blocking and what goes through our minds, and so much more.

I’m so glad to have had this chat with Chloe. She has such a positive and healthy attitude. Please feel free to leave comments or just let Chloe know what a great job she did. Feedback is a gift.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to DanoSongs.


Episode 96 features Kelsey Smith, who hails from Springfield, Illinois. Kelsey is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Kelsey will graduate in May 2013 with a history degree.

Kelsey loves to travel and is considering involvement with the Peace Corps.

We met in July in Tampa, FL at the National Stuttering Association (NSA) conference. It was Kelsey’s first conference. We talk about her experience as a first timer and how the conference helped her move towards acceptance.

Listen is as we also discuss interviews, phone calls versus face to face conversations, advertising and disclosing, and Kelsey’s recent public speaking success.

This was a great conversation. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions or just let Kelsey know what a great job she did. Remember, feedback is a gift.

Music used in this episode, “Per Anima,” is credited to ccMixter.

1. If you are meeting someone new for the first time, and you are engaging in small talk that leads to sharing a little about yourself, consider mentioning that you stutter. An easy way is to say something like, “One of the really unique things about me is I stutter. If you don’t know much about stuttering, ask me, because I’m an expert.”

2. If you are doing a small or large group presentation to people you don’t know well, consider disclosing your stutter early on in your talk. Do it in such a way that you are very confident and matter-of-fact. Let people know that you are comfortable with it. You might say, “Oh, by the way, I stutter, so you may hear some repetitions or pauses. It’s nothing to worry about. I’m OK with my stuttering and I hope you will be too.”

3. Use humor. Try not to take yourself too seriously. If you find yourself talking with someone and you’re self-conscious of a stuttering moment, take some of the pressure off yourself. Consider saying something like, “I hate when that happens. My stuttering seems to be on autopilot today!” And then laugh! If your listener sees that you are comfortable enough to use humor, they will take the cue from you to be a comfortable listener. It’s also a good way to lessen any anxiety you may be feeling.

4. If someone makes fun of you – laughs, mimics, or says something hurtful – feel the “pain” for a moment and then say something. You might try, “maybe you didn’t realize it, but I stutter. This is how I talk. I didn’t like what you just said. Please don’t say it again.” Most people will feel bad and apologize. I always feel a little guilty when that happens, as I don’t purposely want to embarrass someone. But I find that many people really respect the courage it takes to address the fact that we were offended by their teasing or hurtful remark.

5. In a job interview, which most people who stutter think is highly stressful, consider mentioning stuttering as a strength. Yes, a strength! You can say, “I stutter, and because of that, I am an excellent listener, am always well prepared for any speaking engagement and I’m very compassionate, all valuable qualities in today’s workplace.”

Do you have any other ideas as to how to disclose your stuttering? Please share them – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What does the actual moment of stuttering feel like to you?

Yesterday in a training, we were talking about metaphors and the trainer was asking us to apply metaphors for things we were feeling.

We were then to dig deep to see if we could identify the feelings behind the metaphor we chose. No one volunteered, so I took a chance.

I shared that a common metaphor for me is that I often feel like I’ve fallen off a cliff and no one has even noticed. As this was a work training on change, everyone believed I was referring to a work situation. I was not. I was referring to how I sometimes feel when I get caught in a good stuttering block.

However, since it was change we were refferring to, I let the trainer dig deeper with me and allowed her to think it was a work issue. It could have been.

She asked how it feels when I fall off the cliff. I said it feels scary and helpless. She asked if there was anything that let me know I was about to fall of the cliff. I said anxiety usually triggered it.

She asked if I knew why I was falling. I said because I wasn’t in control. Everyone was believing this was a work situation. She asked what I could do to prevent the fall. I said I could talk to someone about how I feel before the anxiety tips me over the edge.

She asked what kept me from talking about the way I felt. I said it was fear of being laughed at. She asked who was my direct report. I told her the guys name – he was right in the room. She asked what could I do to feel comfortable talking with him.

I told her I felt comfortable talking with him – that wasn’t it. She kept pushing for me to dig. I didn’t want to admit I was talking about stuttering. She asked again what was I really afraid of, still thinking I was referring to work.

I finally surprised myself and said judgement. There, I had said it. I feel like I am falling off a cliff when blocking and I fear someone is negatively judging me.

But the metaphor surprisingly fit into a pretend work scenario too. I get anxious when I feel someone at work is judging me.

The trainer felt good that I had risked and shared and felt my colleagues had learned from my share. She encouraged us to dig deep when we are feeling the impact of change in our lives. And to use metaphors to help us dig deeper.

I thought long and hard after the training and was happy that I shared this metaphor that I often feel – even though I didn’t come out and directly say I was talking about stuttering. I didn’t have to – it still related to a general fear of judgement, which is a universal fear. We all want to be accepted and not seen as different from the norm.

What about you? How do you feel in the stuttering moment? Is there a metaphor you could use to describe that feeling?

Episode 94 is a special “monologue” version, where it’s just me, without a guest. Today, on International Stuttering Awareness Day, I offer my thoughts on a question I have pondered.

Are we, as a stuttering community, better off than we were before we had so many support and self-help resources available?

We can answer that two ways. From an individual perspective and from a larger perspective. I’m interested in knowing if you think the world, our little corner, is more knowledgeable about stuttering since there has been an increase in stuttering awareness over, say, the last 5 years.

Or are our awareness efforts only benefiting the stuttering community?

What do you think? I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter, where podcast safe, creative commons music can be found and freely used.

Episode 17 of the conversations with men who stutter features Robert Lucas, who hails from a small town in South Australia.

Robert worked for 26 years in the gas pipe lines industry. He had worked his way up to an Inspector, before retirement.

Robert shared how participating in engineering meetings was always tough for him. He dreaded introductions, and often manipulated others to attend and speak for him. He spent lots of time thinking about how he might manipulate others, including family. Manipulation is an interesting way to look at avoidance.

We talk about how Toastmasters and acting helped Robert become more comfortable and confident with his speech. He shares about the success he found by participating in the McGuire program.

We also enjoy quite a few laughs and talk about the importance of humor, expanding boundaries, advertising and reading other people’s minds.

It was a delight chatting with Robert. He has a terrific attitude and a wicked sense of humor. Please leave comments or questions. Feedback is a gift.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

I was asked this week during a meeting to introduce myself and tell my “story” to a new team I will be working with. The Director wanted to know our work and personal backgrounds, and essentially what makes us tick and our values.

I chose to include some discussion about my stuttering journey, as how I handle stuttering impacts just about everything I do.

Reflecting back on what I said in that discussion and some questions asked, here is my list of how you should care for and feed your stuttering.

1. If you stutter, stutter. Don’t just say you stutter and then not stutter – you don’t look credible then.

2. When talking about it, relax, maintain eye contact and smile. It really does engage listeners.

3. If someone asks a question, answer it honestly. I was asked, “I don’t know much about stuttering, can you tell me a little more about it?” Do that!

4. Voluntary stutter periodically, especially if you are having a really fluent day. Sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s part of caring for your stutter.

5. Be sure to feed your stuttering – don’t be afraid of blocks or signs of tension. If you have disclosed, it will be expected. Your stuttering will eat that up and relax.

6. Acknowledge feelings you have about stuttering. Know that shame and fear of judgement still creep in from time to time. That’s why it’s so important to care for your stuttering by being good to it and not hiding it.

7. Don’t spend precious time and energy trying not to stutter – it rarely works. It’s more efficient to just stutter and move forward.

8. Thank others who take an interest and ask questions.

9. Thank your stuttering when it has a particularly good day. Say, “Thank you stuttering!”

10. Share these care and feeding tips with others – people who stutter or not.  It gives your stuttering more confidence.

Episode 91 features Annie Bradberry, who hails from Corona, California. Annie was the Director of the National Stuttering Association for 10 years. She has been involved with the NSA all of her adult life.

Presently, Annie works as the Director of Development of The 100 Mile Club, a physical fitness and lifestyles program for kids in schools.

We talk about her involvement in the stuttering community and the growth she has seen over the years. Annie also shares what it was like transitioning from being the face of the NSA to “Annie who stutters.”

Listen in as we also chat about therapy experiences, moments of vulnerability, self talk, small talk and how stuttering has been an asset sometimes. And we really touch on being more open to our authentic self. We also laugh a lot in this conversation.

We invite you to leave comments, or just let Annie know what you thought of her story. Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

I host two podcasts for people who stutter to share their stories. The Women Who Stutter: Our Stories is going strong more than two years in. And the occasional series for men who stutter, He Stutters: She Asks Him, is more than a year old.

Here’s an interesting trend happening with the women’s stories. About 8 women, months after their episode has been published, have contacted me and asked if their conversation could be removed. That is a little complex, as they are numbered, archived and on iTunes.

Compromises were reached and the last names of some of the women were removed. Some names were changed entirely.


People are discovering that upon a Google search, their names are popping up associated with stuttering. If they are doing a job search, they don’t want to be linked to anything relating to stuttering. They are afraid that potential employers will draw conclusions that may result in adverse employment decisions.

Several women came right out and told me that is the reason they wanted to remain anonymous and not be outed on Google.

As open as we are about stuttering, and the more progressive we get about advocacy and raising awareness, some things don’t change.

We still fear being exposed and still believe that being found to be a stutterer will result in negative social punishment. Including missed job opportunities or promotions.

And it appears to be more of a women’s issue. Hmmmm . . . . . .


I chatted recently with another person who stutters about the best way to listen to a stutterer. We were responding to a question posed by a SLP graduate student posed on an on-line stuttering forum.

The student doesn’t stutter, and wondered what people who do stutter prefer for listeners to do or say.

Most people indicated that people should listen to a person who stutters the same way you would listen to anyone else – with patience, presence and respect.

I chimed in that sometimes a person looks uncomfortable or averts their eyes or nervously giggles or laughs. Then I might disclose or advertise that I stutter to let the other person know what to expect. When I do that, sometimes the listener understands more fully that it is stuttering they hear and they don’t have to react differently than normal.

This brought up the difference between sympathy and empathy. The person I was talking with felt that when we advertise stuttering, that alone may lead the person to treat us differently, maybe even inadvertently with pity. He felt that advertising brings attention to our stuttering and therefore away from normalcy.

He felt that we should not say anything about it, and expect the listener to just listen as they would with anyone else.  Most listeners will default to empathy and listen respectfully.

I am not so sure about this. I think that if someone does not know you and does not know what stuttering is, the default reaction might be laughter, surprise or impatience. It seems best in some situations to disclose, so that both stutterer and listener can be at ease.

There is obviously a real difference between sympathy and empathy as it applies to listening to someone who stutters.

What do you think?

You all know that I write about my experiences involving stuttering. I have wondered what will happen when the day comes when I don’t have anything more to say. Well, I am not wondering today.

Last week, I presented a training to a professional audience on public speaking and communication. The group consisted of speech therapists, occupational therapists and training coordinators who are all terrified of public speaking.

As an ice breaker, I asked everyone to introduce themselves and use one word or phrase to describe what public speaking means. Like expected, most of the responses were negative. We heard words like nervous, anxious, stressful, shaking, sweating, fear, and embarrassment. The last person said she didn’t want to stutter when speaking.

I felt my face flush when she said that. I had not yet disclosed my stuttering. She provided my cue. I reintroduced myself and said my word for public speaking was opportunity. I then added, “oh, by the way, I stutter, and I am OK with it. I hope you all are too.”

No one said anything, but I did notice a few glances toward the woman who had mentioned stuttering. I did not say this to embarrass her. It just seemed like the perfect time to disclose and advertise.

As soon as I did, I put it out of my mind and proceeded. Towards the end of the training, someone asked me why I had used the word opportunity.

I was the only person who had chosen a positive word to describe public speaking. I replied that it allows me to grow and push outside of my comfort zone, and that I don’t let stuttering hold me back.

This past week, I facilitated the second of two adult education graduations in one week. I had coordinated both events, arranged for speakers, and was the emcee at the first one. One of our district superintendents spoke at both affairs. He spoke on the same theme, changing the second speech up just slightly from the one he gave earlier.

After the ceremony, and before we proceeded to join the graduates for a reception, the administrators were chatting and I happened to be close by.

I overheard one assistant superintendent say to the one who had spoke, “hey, you did a nice job. You didn’t stutter as much as last week.” And she laughed. I glanced at them both – she was laughing, he was not.

I felt uncomfortable. It seemed like an insensitive remark to make, given that I had stuttered openly when I had emceed last week.

Maybe I am overly sensitive. What do you think? Would you have said anything?

About a month ago, I attended a meeting of a new stuttering support group. A SLP friend, who also stutters, wanted some of the people he has been working with to see the power of support.

Steve asked me to come to the first meeting, to meet some people and to share. I felt a little awkward going, as I most likely won’t be able to attend again, as the schedule doesn’t work for me.

I shared parts of my story with the group and answered some questions.

At one point in the conversation, Steve asked me how I had reached the point where I am comfortable advertising and stuttering freely at work.

In my answer, I mentioned that sometimes it bothers me when people tell me, “Oh, you are such an inspiration.”  I feel embarrassed by that, and even a bit annoyed. Sometimes, I don’t want to be singled out like that and told that I am inspiring.

To me, I am doing exactly what everyone else is doing – talking. I don’t want a big deal made out of what everyone does everyday.

I was quite surprised when one woman, Francis, who had previously said very little, said, “Excuse me, but what if you are? Who are you to determine that? To people who stutter, you are an inspiration. You can’t control how people think of you.”

That was a moment! She was looking a little teary eyed as she said it. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said thank you. And she smiled and said, “I wish I could be as confident as you.”

There was another SLP in the group and she commented that she also agreed with Francis. She too said she thought I was inspiring for people who stutter.

I have thought about that exchange for a couple of weeks. It reminds me of a similar comment another friend shared with me some time ago. Lisa mentioned that she hates it when anyone calls her inspiring for just doing what she has to do and living life.

Interesting food for thought. What do you think? Has anyone ever referred to you as inspirational when you don’t feel you are?

Episode 84 features Miranda Smith, who hails from Florence, Kentucky. Miranda is a full-time college student at Northern Kentucky University, studying computer information technology, with a minor in computer forensics. She also works as a waitress.

Miranda is actively involved in the National Stuttering Association, serving as a board member on the Teen Advisory Council.

Listen in as we talk about how she got involved in the stuttering community, her feelings about stuttering, confidence and self-consciousness, and how she balances a very full plate. Well, waitresses are exceptionally good at that, right?

Miranda also talks about fund raising she has done for the National Stuttering Association and advertising she has done about stuttering. She shares how the “Stutter Like A Rock Star” bracelets were a big hit.

Even though I am the original “stutterrockstar” (@StutterRockStar on twitter and the url for this blog) it’s cool that Miranda took “stutterlikearockstar”as her email address. We are both making room for our stuttering and there is certainly enough room!

Please be sure to listen in and leave comments or questions for Miranda. Or just let her know what a great job she did.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.

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