Make Room For The Stuttering

Speaking Of Being Assertive

Posted on: October 10, 2013

I missed a good opportunity to practice being assertive last week and seize a chance to raise some stuttering awareness.

I am participating in my Toastmaster’s club’s Fall Contest this session, and at last week’s meeting, I had to give an evaluation of a target speech. My evaluation “speech” was to go for 2-3 minutes, with a 30 second grace period. I clocked in at 3:11.

To help the contestants get good feedback and prepare for the next round of competition, everyone at the meeting was asked to give us speakers some verbal feedback. It’s called “Round Robin Evaluation.”

It’s a bit intimidating to have 10-12 people go around and share what they thought on how you performed. But it’s also excellent practice on how to receive constructive feedback. No one really wants to hear that you did something wrong or should improve this or that, but that is the whole point of Toastmasters, to help us learn and grow. If no one is brave enough to give honest feedback, then we miss opportunities to learn.

Mot people said I did a fine job – they highlighted the strong parts and several people mentioned one particular good idea I had suggested to the target speaker.

One guy shared his opinion that I seemed nervous and lacked the usual. confidence that I have. He noted that I tripped and stumbled over several words and knew that I “could do better, because he’s heard me do better.”

He was talking about my stuttering, which had been more pronounced than usual. I am usually very fluent at Toastmasters, because I project my voice and that seems to help with my fluency. But not that night. I was stuttering and he pointed it out as part of his feedback.

I was embarrassed, but don’t think I showed it. Not everyone in my club knows that I stutter, because there has been a lot of new people and I haven’t talked about it in a while.

My mind whirled after the feedback session. I didn’t want to be “judged” on my stuttering – but if he didn’t know, he could have attributed it to nerves.

I wanted to say something to him after the meeting, like “hey, I stutter!” But it didn’t seem appropriate. It was a Toastmasters meeting, not a meeting about stuttering. But it bothered me, and I feel like I missed an opportunity.

What do you think?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.