Stuttering Speed Talking

The next workshop I went to after lunch on the third day was Speed Talking. The premise was like open mic, but everybody was guaranteed to get involved. Two rows of chairs were set up facing each other. One row would stay in place, and the other would move to the next seat every 3 minutes. Like speed dating, but with stuttering. The idea was just to … talk.

Since one of my personal themes was “talk as much as you can” during the conference, I was interested to see how this would go. There were about 40 people total, so it would take up about an hour.

There are a lot of interesting dynamics when it comes to speed talking as someone who stutters. Here are my observations:

1. We had to introduce ourselves. For me this meant stuttering out my name. I was doing horribly at this, so about 30-45 seconds (or so it seemed to me) was chewed up by this. Any negative reactions by the person who I was talking to? Of course not! Stutter on!
2. Anything you want to try to ask starts with a “w.” Where are you from? What do you do? When did you start going to these conferences?
3. I decided not to substitute or avoid any words. Which made me stutter more.
4. I wanted to talk, I wanted to meet people! So I was pushing out questions really hard and interested in keeping conversations going.
5. Just like with any meeting of strangers, some people were better at making random small talk than others.
6. I was using some “canned” material, so I didn’t stutter as much on that. But I did get some random questions which took a while to answer.
7. As for “small talk” overall, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do it — not a lot of meeting new people here. So at times it was difficult to articulate what I was doing for a living and where I lived and the whole situation.
8. Maybe I should have talked to each person about the blog, but for whatever reason I didn’t. I don’t know — it didn’t seem like the right venue.
9. Three minutes goes by pretty quick when you’re stuttering (although it seems like forever at the time)
10. There were a lot of people talking in close proximity. So I had to raise my voice quite a bit and really focus on speaking. It was sort of like being at a noisy bar, really.
11. I did talk to some really interesting people, but I was lousy about following up with anybody after the workshop. I mean, I didn’t do any follow up. Need to do a lot better on that next year in Chicago.

So all in all, it was another great chance to … talk. And introduce myself. And stutter. A lot. And be put on the spot. And not to be judged. So that was awesome.

But it was absolutely exhausting.

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