Make Room For The Stuttering


Posted on: February 27, 2012

I have been involved with Toastmasters for almost six years. I love it! It has changed my life and I tell people that all the time, especially new members and those who may be interested in learning more about Toastmasters.

This year, I have been serving as an Area Governor, which means that I lend guidance and support to several clubs. I have to visit each club a couple of times a year and provide support and feedback as needed to help the members and the club grow.

I visited one of my clubs a few evenings ago and had a great experience. Whenever a Toastmaster leader visits a club, we are always asked to speak a few minutes. I noticed there were newer members and at least one guest. I chose to include in my introduction how much Toastmasters has helped me grow in confidence and courage, especially as a person who stutters.

To my amazement, two other people in the group also stutter. After I spoke, everyone else introduced themselves. One young man, a member for only a month, shared that he could relate with me. He said it was good to hear a Toastmaster leader talk about stuttering, as he also stutters.

And then, the guest at the meeting shared that he too stutters. He is from Copenhagen, Denmark and is here for a semester as an exchange student. He stuttered openly and shared that he too was happy to hear a Toastmaster leader openly acknowledge stuttering. He mentioned he had heard about Toastmasters through the McGuire (speech therapy) program he had taken in Denmark.

After the meeting, this young man said he felt comfortable and planned to join Toastmasters and then transfer his membership when he returned home to Denmark.

This made a great impact on me that night. I wondered if I had not shared about my stuttering in my introduction, would these two young men have shared? Maybe, maybe not. They might have felt no one could understand and might have felt they needed to keep it hidden.

I felt inspired that my choice to share personal information about my stuttering might have inspired those two young men to feel comfortable enough to disclose.

And what are the odds that 3 people who stutter would end up at the same Toastmasters meeting, totally unaware of the coincidence? Something tells me we were supposed to be there that evening to encourage and inspire each other!

What do you think?

5 Responses to "Introductions"

Haha, wow, such a coincidence! That must have felt great. By the way, McGuire students are told to tell as many people as possible about their stutter and their way of getting control over it. So if he was doing it right, he probably would have talked about his stammer anyway.

I hope that’s what he would have done – as he seemed really confident! It was a great coincidence and made me feel really good that I chose to include my stuttering in my introduction, because I hadn’t the last time I had visited this club!

I can imagine! For me it’s always some kind of relief when I tell people I stammer. Then they know about it, and I don’t have to worry any more about what they think when they hear my stammer, because they already know 🙂 Is that the same with you?

Yes, absolutely . . . it takes my anxiety away. If I can tell the audience at some point, it makes it so much easier for me, and I don’t start obsessing what they may think if a stutter comes out and it hasn’t been addressed.
Sometimes I find I don ‘t want to advertise right away, but then when I see how relieved I was, I wished I had done it sooner.
I advertise for me . . . not to make the listeners more comfortable, (well, of course I want them more comfortable) but mainly I do it for me so that I can stutter away if that’s what is going to happen anyway.
Thanks for sharing again!

Pam, in our toastmasters club there are three current members who told me that they grew up with stuttering and overcame it in their teens. One guy said he still has some, it is just hard to notice. We also have one past member who stutters and recently a man from India who was a covert stutterer joined out group and left after giving a couple of speeches. In our district we have a man who last year won semifinals of Worls Championship and he never talked about the fact he stuttered until his teens until I started talking about it. He actually came to our club specially to evaluate my speech about stuttering and in his evaluation told everybody that he stuttered too. I would never knew about those people if I didn’t talk about stuttering at every occassion. Being open opens other people up. Anna

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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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