Make Room For The Stuttering

Speeding Up Slows Us Down

Posted on: February 7, 2013

My friend asked me to raise this question on Facebook. Do people who stutter tend to stutter more when talking with people who talk very fast?

The question got a lot of responses. Many indicated that the pressure to speak faster increases anxiety, which then increases the stuttering.

Some said they know they can’t keep up, so they just don’t say anything, hoping the other person will notice eventually and invite them to respond.

Some said they speak even slower to encourage the fast talker to slow down.

Some said the pressure to keep up brings on more blocking.

I sometimes wonder where in the conversation it would work for me to jump in, as I worry I might block at that moment when I try to break into the conversation.

What do you think?

4 Responses to "Speeding Up Slows Us Down"

Well, I have first hand experience with fast talkers as my wife speaks very fast. We are originally from the Chicagoland area and well, that is how everyone speaks. I do find myself intuitively pacing myself with her. I also do that for other people as well. I have to actually pay attention to stop myself. It doesn’t necessarily make me nervous but I for me, it is difficult to manage my speech at all if I am speaking too fast. I find myself making a lot more mistakes both stuttering and non-stuttering bobbles. The way I compare it too is typing. I learned how to type in high school and can type fairly well (about 45 words a minute). If I try to type faster than that, than I am always having to use the backspace because I was making a lot more typos. If I type at a certain speed, then I can maintain a formidable typing speed without having so many typos. Speech for me is the same way. I am not an advocate of people telling you to slow down when you are stuttering because if it was that simple, then we wouldn’t have 1% of our population stutter. As far as emotional response such as anxiety, I am not sure if the speaking rate of the other person make me more anxious or not but if I had to guess, I would say maybe a little but not very substantial. My stress radar is usually set off by other factors such as authority figure (or power) or speaking at a meeting.

You also mentioned speaking fast and a lot where you want to interrupt in order to join the conversation…well that is a different animal. I tend to overshoot (lot of articulatory pressure especially on lips) and block on the initial sound so that is a strong possibility for me.

All I can say is “laugh out loud”. I recently started a new job as a teaching assistant and the teacher who I work with speaks extremely fast. I find myself feeling more anxious around her and I don’t know why. It’s crazy but for some reason society things that if you speak really fast no matter whether it is even sense sometimes you are more competent. However if you have stuttered speech you somehow sound incompetent. I wonder everyone thinks about this.

Total rant


i didnt use to talk when i was around friends who are fast talkers. i always wanted to be a fast talker but now i have accepted that im not made to talk fast. so, i speak and stutter, and stutter until i complete.

Hi Pam,
I tend to talk fast myself, mostly because I want the other person to hear what I have to say but also, in the past, I thought if I spoke fast I could trick my stammer and get the words out before it caught up with me. What was I thinking! Anyway, yes I find if someone is talking fast I feel time pressure to get my bit of the conversation in quick. If I don’t, I think when they stop talking they will expect a quick response from me and that also causes me pressure because silences are hard to deal with. What I try to do now is live in the present and by that I mean instead of thinking about what I am going to say next, I stop and concentrate on what the other person is saying and actually listen so when it is my turn to speak I respond to them rather than trying to jump in with something, anything rather than risk silence. It reminds me of a phrase I heard some years ago ‘ seek first to understand and then to be understood’

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