Everyone has hardships they’ve encountered. But we all know that some of us can have challenges we’re not able to overcome. So it is with stuttering. It’s a condition Tiger Woods explains this way: “The words got lost somewhere between the brain and the mouth.” Tiger overcame his speech disorder, yet not everyone can achieve success when they try to ditch the stuttering affliction.
If that’s you, then it may be time to consider a list of people who made the choice to move forward anyway. Stevie Wonder, who remains blind since birth, has recorded over thirty U.S. top ten musical hits. Stephen Hawking, who recently passed away from complications due to ALS, achieved more than any other physicist in the world. And Marlee Matlin, deaf since she was eighteen months old, chose to be an actress anyway and has gone on to receive an Oscar and star in many roles. These people chased their passions. As a stutterer desiring to speak, you can do the same!
Step One is Always to Say Yes!: If someone asks you to speak to a group, fear is not an unusual reaction. In fact, 90% of the population fears speaking! So, your job, stutterer or not, is simply to say yes, before fear shuts you down.
Step Two is Preparation: Knowing your material will boost your confidence and free you up to handle any challenges you have with your stutter.
Step Three is Acceptance: You know your communication stumbling blocks better than anyone else. Think about what consonants give you trouble and practice. Chew sugarless gum to get your mouth moving. Slow your thoughts down to what you are saying and don’t focus on the next few statements. If it’s helpful, use slides to throw in the overwhelming words.
Step Four is to Embrace Humor: You can be a stuttering super star. The secret is to keep going, especially if you think you’ve messed it up. Try using humor to bring your audience along with you. Examples: “Hey! I just said three P’s in a row!” or “I know you secretly want to finish my sentences, but please don’t. I want the speaker’s fee all for myself.” Let your audience know that you’re okay with your stuttering and it’s okay for them to support your efforts.
Step Five is to Emulate: We’ve come too far in this world not to have others who have paved the way for us. Google speakers who stutter and watch their youtube videos, making note of their advice, and embracing that you can be as brave as they are!!