Make Room For The Stuttering

A Lot Of Talking

Posted on: December 5, 2009

This is my very busy time of the school year. Part of my job requires that I visit all of the high schools in my county and make presentations to 10th graders about career and technical programs that they can take during their last two years of high school.  Career Technical Education is what used to be called vocational training, although it has evolved greatly over the last 20 years. Because our school is located in the Tech Valley part of New York, we are providing training in career paths that will lead to jobs in information technology, renewable energy and bio-technical areas. Our students are learning about wind power and solar energy, and have real prospects of getting jobs in those areas.

Too many people still believe that career and technical training is not the right path for kids. Parents still believe that their kid should be going to 4 year colleges. Part of my job is to help people realize that times have changed and practical, technical skills can and will lead to good jobs.

So my job includes a bit of old-fashioned talking to people. We don’t send a video or DVD for kids to look at. We send a real person, to talk to groups of 10th graders, one class at a time. That person is ME! I make a verbal presentation to the kids about what career technical education is and why hands-on learning may appeal to them. I bring along a couple of students already enrolled in some of the programs to talk with the students. From there, I schedule tours and classroom shadowing for interested students.  I do use a Power Point presentation to supplement my talk, with lots of pictures of kids enrolled in all of our classes. It works. We fill the seats in the classes.

Why am I talking about this? Because I am talking all day, to small groups and large groups, to classroom teachers and guidance counselors. And I stutter. Sometimes not much. Sometimes a lot. I was reminded of a few things yesterday and today, after doing 3 back-to-back presentations both days. Things we should all remember when doing a lot of talking.

I have to remember to bring my water bottle. Talking a lot makes my throat dry. That goes for fluent speakers as well. And another thing: we will get tired after doing several presentations in a row. It has nothing to do with stuttering a little or a lot – presenting to people is just tiring. It may seem like all I am doing is standing up there and talking, but believe me, there is a lot of work going on. I do all of my recruitment and outreach talks without notes. My brain sort of freezes after a while.  And I have to remember to breathe and pause. Not only is it good for easier stuttering, but taking a breath and pausing gives the listener time to absorb what has been said. Helps us both!

I really like this part of my job. When I first started, I was freaking out a lot, worrying about stuttering while presenting the information. And I also had worried about how I would be perceived being the presenter. Well, no one seems to care if I stutter or not. Sure, there are some smirks and occasional eye rolls, but I have come to learn, that in the life of 15-year-old kids, that is forgotten within minutes. As for how I might be perceived as the presenter, I am the one with the knowledge. They want to hear what I have to say. And I am the one with the courage and confidence to do it. Remember, most people hate presenting to groups, stutter or not.

So, remember: bring water and actually drink it. Remember to take a breath and pause once-in-a-while. And don’t be surprised when you feel tired at the end of a long day talking. That is supposed to happen. Especially when we are outside of our comfort zone a lot.

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you been in situations where you have presented back-to-back? What works for you?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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