There’s one almighty goal for nearly every single person with a stammer and that’s to overcome it and to emerge victorious with 100% fluency.
Newsflash: It’s never going to happen!
Have you ever heard someone speak for the first time and not utter the word em, eh, or um?
No? Maybe you can’t think of it right now, so here’s an experiment for you to have fun with.
Eavesdrop on people’s conversations
Yeah… you’ve been told right through childhood not to listen to other people’s conversations that don’t concern you. Mind your own business and all that.
Toss that idea to the side; because if people are discussing things they’d rather not have publicly known, then they should take better care with their oh so fluent voice. Their fault, not yours… just don’t make it obvious you’re tuned into their conversation.
You’re doing nothing out of nastiness here. You’re only educating yourself on how everyone else speaks. Recognise how others speak and you’ll be able to mimic that to what you believe is fluency because without hearing imperfections for yourself, you’re always going to be falling short of your own expectations.
Are you guilty of setting your standards too high?
Just because you stammer does not make you unique
Confidence boosting therapists may try to make you feel better by telling you that you are unique. You have your own unique style of saying things. Sometimes it works to get people to really tune into what you’re saying, other times, your listeners find it difficult to hold a conversation. There are two sides to the coin when you consider disruptive speaking. It can be good, it can be bad, but those affected with a stammer, nearly always focus on the negatives of it. Those unaffected by a stammer still suffer from speech blockages and regularly.
The next time you put a question to someone and they aren’t expecting it, listen for the disruption in their response. It will be there, provided it’s not an expected question like how are you doing?
A stammer is hard to ignore but not impossible to accept
Here’s another experiment you’ll probably find fun. Instead of turning on an audio to practice fluent speaking in the car on your way to work, turn it off and tune into your local radio station. Listen to the presenters and count how many times their speech is disrupted.
Every radio host does it. Er, em, uh. You’ll see it happen on the live news too. Seasoned pros are not immune to the stumbling blocks of speech. There is always going to be lapsing moments when the brain gets confused and fills a thinking slot of time with an er, or a prolonged ummmm.
Coming to a Theatre Near You
This is the only place you’re going to hear fluent speaking happen. The reason is the words are recited so often they roll off the tongues of the actors.
This is the place to go to observe real fluency in action. It’s highly unnatural though because there is no way you can recite everything you will ever say. You’d be like a walking textbook with canned responses for every question you’re asked.
What we say, the conversations we have with people and expressing our thoughts vocally change consistently. The only way to respond to anything is to say what you want to say.
There is no meaning behind how you say it.
How you say it is irrelevant. It’s what you say that matters.
Say something stupid and you’ll feel the same emotions as you feel when you stammer mid conversation with someone.
As for avoidance techniques – Forget it
The only thing avoiding a stammer is going to do is make you tense, more aware, and more nervous of the consequences if your stammer does come through.
That’s no way to live your life; in fear of judgment and consequence.
Push past your anxiety, listen to the speech imperfections of anyone and you’ll realise that aiming for complete fluency will only hold you back.
The best way forward
Define your problem – do you prolong sounds, block parts of a word out, repeat words, or just syllables?
Take baby steps to fix one area – many a person who stammers will have more than one stumbling block.
Define your problems first and then fix one thing at a time. Take a leaf from the actors’ playbook and recite, recite and recite.
Keep at it – The only way to reduce stumbling blocks is to continue practicing to get your tongue, lips, vocal chords, and breathing all working harmoniously to get you producing clear and distinct sounds, with minimal disruption to your speech.
Note the word minimum there.
Minimum disruption is the simplest goal to set yourself. If you reach a word that you know you’re going to have difficulty with, do what every other so-called fluent speaker does and say er, or em, before having a bash at it. If you trip on it, don’t sweat it. It’s a process. Not a miracle.
Take it from someone who evolved through stammering by studying the speech behaviors of others. It’s what worked for me, continues to work for many of my students around the world, and it will, in all likelihood, work for you to achieve a more natural way of speaking.
Teach yourself the techniques using these, or contact me for information on a unique stammering course, tailored around you over either three-days, or five-days where we’ll work together to get you on the fast track to improved communication with minimal disruption.
0121 453 9208 / 07967 549 070