Posted December 2, 2016on:
This is the time of year that I visit schools and do a lot of presentations about program options for students entering their junior and senior years of high school. Over the course of 2 months, I make about 50 presentations.
I usually hesitate to disclose that I stutter to these high school students because I worry that it will detract from what I’m talking about. I’m not going to make a presentation about stuttering so I don’t ever plan to talk about stuttering.
Sometimes though it’s unavoidable!
Yesterday while doing my second presentation of the day, I was stuttering exceptionally well. Like on almost every word. I felt really self-conscious and was ultra aware of how I sounded. I worried that the kids were going to think something was wrong, as I was in full-on repetition mode and also hesitating and pausing a lot.
So I decided to stop for a moment, took a deep breath, and said to the students, “Hey guys, I want you to know something. I stutter and I’m having a real stutter-y day. So if you hear stuttering, that’s all it is, just stuttering. OK?” And then I went right back to where I left off in my presentation. And it was OK.
The students didn’t bat an eyelash. No one commented or made funny faces or anything. They just took it in stride.
I was so relieved. Putting it out there like that made it easier for me to continue stuttering and actually I noticed that I gradually stuttered less. And I was relieved that I actually disclosed, because I’m not really comfortable doing that while making work presentations.
Now that I did it like this, I feel like I’ll be more comfortable doing it again if need be.
The disclosure was for my benefit, not my audience. I said what I did to make myself more comfortable while stuttering so well. It was a small form of self-care that I really needed to do.
What do you think about how I handled it? Have you done something similar?