Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘public speaking,

I participated in a great conversation this week about ways to build confidence if you stutter. During a Stutter Social chat, a young person asked how some of us more “seasoned stutterers” deal with the anxiety of stuttering in certain speaking situations.

Some people shared their experiences from speech therapy, some shared from their perspective on acceptance and two of us talked a little about Toastmasters.

The following are some of the ideas that we shared about building confidence. Maybe you’ve tried some of them. Maybe you’ve got a suggestion to add.

  • Don’t obsess or rehearse before hand. That increases anxiety and decreases spontaneous conversation.
  • Consider advertising and letting listeners know that you are a person who stutters.
  • Try using voluntary stuttering to help you gain some control during the speaking situation.
  • Seize opportunities to speak, such as Toastmasters clubs or other speaking forums. Practice helps reduce anxiety and build confidence.
  • Remind yourself that you have as much right to be in that speaking situation as the next person, that your voice deserves to be heard.
  • If someone interrupts you, calmly let them know you’re not finished speaking yet and then proceed to complete your thoughts, no matter how long it takes.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add?

 

 

This is not directly about stuttering, but in a way, it is. This guy showed on a big stage how nerves and anxiety can get the best of any of us. The news shows are describing Mr. Bay’s performance as a “melt down” and “embarrassing stage fright.”

I took this a different way. I think he did us all a favor. He showed us that he’s human and felt anxious and vulnerable, like we all do from time to time.

How many of us, fluent or not, can relate to what happened here?

Pam

Episode 104 features Jessica Stone, who hails from New York City. Jessica has her Master’s degree from NYU in Mass Communication, and has been working as a copy writer in advertising for 16 years.

Jessica had set two goals for herself before she turned 30 – to get her master’s degree and to live abroad. Having accomplished the first, she set out to research the second.

She found herself leaving NYC to live in London, which turned out to be for 6 years. Through that experience, Jessica learned about networking, confidence and resilience.

Listen in as we discuss early memories of stuttering, covert stuttering, anxiety and breathing. We also talk about public speaking – both Toastmasters and Transformational Speaking – and Jessica’s experience with the McGuire program in London. And so much more.

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

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

Episode 18 of the conversations with men features Ray Welchman, who hails from South Australia. Ray is a systems engineer in a defense company.

He also runs “Feel The Fear” workshops as a licensed trainer for Susan Jeffers training. Jeffers wrote the wonderful book Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

Listen in as we talk about different therapy experiences, the McGuire programme, avoidance, denial, hiding and so much more.

We talk about courage, growth and Toastmasters. Ray is the president of his Toastmasters club and and often finds himself privately exclaiming “look what I’m doing now.” Confidence and courage help us expand our comfort zones and grow.

Speaking of growth, see this video of Ray performing in a Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest.

This was a great conversation. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Feedback is a gift.

Music used in this episode is from DanoSongs.

Producer note: apologies for the abrupt beginning. Technical difficulties resulted in a few seconds of Ray’s introduction being “cut off.”

At the FRIENDS conference this past July, one of the phrases I heard that really stuck with me was “listening deeply.” People were asked what they hoped to get out of the conference, and someone wrote they hoped they would learn to listen more deeply.

I have heard many people who stutter say they think they are better listeners in general because they are more aware of the importance of listening and because they also talk less.

What do you think of that?

Last night, I had to give a high stakes presentation to our school board. It was important that I conveyed my message powerfully in a short amount of time. When we were preparing, my partner and I had considered doing a PowerPoint presentation or just talking without “relying” on visual aids.

We chose to NOT use a PowerPoint and to just speak, and have handouts available for further reference for board members.

The group that spoke before us had a PowerPoint presentation, and I worried that maybe we had made the wrong decision to not use a visual.

As I watched and listened to the first speakers, I also paid attention to the audience. They were not paying close attention. They were looking through handouts and flipping pages as the speakers spoke.  I thought they were not listening deeply, as they were perhaps distracted by the PowerPoint presentation.

When I got up to speak, despite being very nervous, I just spoke. As I made eye contact with listeners, I noticed they were all focused on me, some made direct eye contact and they were listening. I could tell! I could see facial expressions, body language and head nods that told me they were listening.

I got the impression that they were listening deeply, as they were invited to do so by not being distracted with anything else. I think they heard my message loud and clear.

By the way, I stuttered a few times and did not feel in any way that it detracted from my message.

We all should aim to listen deeply. We might be surprised by how much we actually hear.

An interesting story came my way yesterday. Friends from the stuttering community passed this article around – “Did Michelle Obama Fake A Stutter?” to see what “real stutterers” think of someone who may have used stuttering to exude sincerity.

Stop for a minute and think about that. Why would someone giving a powerhouse political speech at the Democratic National Convention “purposefully stutter?” To add sincerity and impact to her speech? To win the hearts of her audience members? I don’t think so.

Michelle Obama doesn’t need to try and win over her audience. She already is a strong speaker, and knows how to connect with her audience.

This is just one more way to confuse people about stuttering. As we know, the average person has normal dis-fluent moments while speaking. Even presidents do!

If  Obama did have word repetitions, it wasn’t to purposely stutter so she could come off as more sincere or authentic or likeable. She had a few moments of imprecise speech like everyone does. She wasn’t using stuttering to win votes.

That’s just ridiculous!

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?


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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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