Do you know what James Earl Jones, Nicole Kidman and Tiger Woods all have in common? Can you guess? They were all stutterers. All of them are famous public figures and are required to speak on camera and sometimes in public to thousands of people. And all of them learned how to fix their stutter and speak well. Even the great Winston Churchill was a stutterer.
Now this, to me, proves that a stuttering disorder or a speech disorder doesn’t necessarily have to stop anyone from achieving their goals or dreams. So, if you or someone you love is struggling with a stutter or a stammer, this blog is for you!
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WHAT IS STUTTERING AND STAMMERING?
Stuttering or stammering is a speech disorder in which an individual may repeat words, or syllables and are not able to fluently speak. It’s like Knowing what you want to say but not being able to get it out!
If you have a child that stutters, don’t despair, because 75% of kids grow out of it.
As an adult stutterer, being shy or nervous can make symptoms worse and can start a vicious cycle because the more you stress, the more you stutter, and the more you stutter the more you stress. So, today we are going to break this cycle and get you speaking with more fluency. You ready?
STEP 1: SLOW DOWN .
Many people who are over excited, anxious or in dire need of being heard, all tend to speak too fast. Sometimes, people with anxiety speak as fast as they can so they can get all their thoughts out before someone shuts them down. But here’s the thing: People don’t listen to you if you speak too fast and for stutterers, using speed and urgency will make the stutter worse. So, the first thing you need to do is slow down your speech which will help you stay calm.
To give you an idea of what to aim for here are some guidelines:
Normal speech is paced at 120 – 150 words per minute. Going any faster than 150 is not going to benefit you or your listeners.
So, discipline yourself to slow down and your speaking fluency will improve.
STEP 2: THE POWER OF BREATH
If you are a chest breather you are going to have much more anxiety and therefore problems with fluency than a diaphragmatic breather. Anyone with abdominal tension is going to have problems with tension and fluency. The voice can get stuck, you can feel tight in the chest when speaking, anxiety can ramp up and all sorts of things happen when you breathe and speak incorrectly. The more you continue to chest breathe, the worse it will get.
STEP 3: REHEARSAL
Just like a singer or actor needs to rehearse dozens of times before a performance, a skill like public speaking needs to be rehearsed too.
Anyone who thinks they can be good at something without doing the work is just kidding themselves. So, pick a book to read and read it out loudly, slowly and in a relaxed voice. You will find, even if you have a stutter, your fluency will improve by doing daily practice especially because many stutterers have massive anxiety over reading out loud. This practice will help you get over your anxiousness and build the skill you need to speak fluently.
STEP 4: FLOW SPEAK .
Flow speak is approaching speaking as though its singing, not speaking. When you are singing, you flow all the sounds from one to the next. The airflow is not interrupted and the vocal folds don’t have to re-connect. We can learn to speak in the same way as we sing. If you break up the airflow every time you speak, the airflow stops and the vocal system has to work much harder to reconnect the vocal folds for each word. By flowing all the words together, it helps the whole system calm down and keeps the airflow flowing smoothly. So, use that trick as much as you can when speaking and your stutter or stammer will begin to disappear.
STEP 5: MOVE IT .
One of the first things that we do when anxious is go into fight, flight or freeze and in today’s world, we mostly FREEZE. So, when you are starting to feel tense or anxious, the best thing you can do for your body, brain and speech is to MOOOOOOVE – move your hands, your arms, tell your story, get animated! Not only will it help get rid of the nervous tension in your body, but it will also keep your listeners more engaged. Look, there is nothing more alienating than feeling cut off from the world because you can’t communicate and connect with people. So, please try these exercises for yourself if you are having fluency issues.
Look, there is nothing more alienating than feeling cut off from the world because you can’t communicate and connect with people. So, please try these exercises for yourself if you are having fluency issues.
Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.