Advertising your Stuttering

Since stuttering got a lot of attention over the past few days thanks to International Stuttering Awareness Day, I thought I’d talk about … advertising.

Advertising your stutter, of course. When I went to the NSA Conference, this came up a lot. That we should advertise our stutter to listeners before we get rolling. It’ll take the edge off. It’ll inform them. It’ll make us more comfortable and maybe we’ll stutter less.

I’ve never advertised. I was really trying hard to think back and … no. I never prefaced a single conversation with this. That’s of course thanks to being covert for such a long time. However, now that I’m out about it a little more, I’m still not sure if advertising is something I’ll do. And why not? Well, easy — I know I’ll stutter on the word “stutter.” Yep. Fear of stuttering … when advertising … stuttering. I know it’s maybe the point — if a listener hears you stutter on “stutter,” then they might make the connection rather quickly. Right?

So how do people do this? When is it really worth it? I don’t remember hearing too many examples (if at all) during the conference of how people do this. Isn’t the question or conversation that you would like to ask/have going to be your basis for advertising? That is, if you have a quick question, are you going to preface it with a long, stuttering introduction of yourself?

(Stuttering) “Hi, I wanted to let you know that I stutter. But I don’t want it stop me from talking to people. Do you mind if I ask you for directions?”
Them: Yeah, sure.
(Stuttering) “Ok, well, can you please let me know where the Starbucks is around here? I’m supposed to meeting a friend.”
Them: It’s the next store over.
Me, not stuttering: Oh.

And with people at work, isn’t there a window of opportunity for this? I mean, if you don’t do it your first few days there, can you really pull it off two years later?

My inclination would be to advertise after I’m having a hard time speaking, not before. Like, I’d be in a work meeting with some new people and during the presentation, I’d have a really bad stutter. Then, what, make some off-handed remark about how I stutter and “sometimes it’s a little bad. But we’ll get through this.”

When I’ve been meeting people here in the Kingdom, I certainly haven’t told them that I stutter. My thinking is that they’re adults, and they’ll figure it out. And they won’t judge. None of them have. Am I just lucky with the people around me? Is my stutter not that bad anyway after I get my introduction out (or try to get it out?)

I’m just not sure about this advertising because of my recent decision to try to … say what I want more. I stutter more, yes, but I’m saying what I want. And just carrying on. And forcing people to sit and listen. The stuttering is advertising itself, right?

I think one of the shortcomings of just stuttering on through is that my listeners are still uneducated. I still get the occasional person trying to finish my words, people talking over me because they think I’m done … but then again, maybe some of this is just my own perception of things.

Anyway, sorry for the somewhat rambling post. I think the point of all this is that I’m not sure how to advertise, and I need to connect with people who are good at doing this. Either online over the next few months, or try to make a point of it during the NSA Conference next year in Chicago.

If you advertise your stutter regularly to listeners, I’d love to hear in the comments how you do it. If you can give actual conversational examples, that’d be awesome!


  1. I really love your blog, and would love to feature you on mine and introduce my readers to you! Would you be interested in guest posting on my site? I admire what you have to say about advertising your stuttering, and think we could build some really interesting conversation. Let me know if you have any questions!


  2. Hi Rehan, I liked this post a lot. I do agree that stuttering is a kind of advertising. For me, it can go the other way– I generally tell people that I stutter, but actually letting stutters out is something i tend to avoid as a semi-covert stutterer (I’m working on it!).

    I like advertising for a few reasons. First of all, even when you’re stuttering, people might not know what’s going on. Stuttering doesn’t always sound like stuttering. Advertising is attractive to me because I can take control of the conversation and tell the other person what to think. So, instead of them thinking that I’m nervous, or forgetting what I want to say, they’ll know: oh, she stutters, it’s a mechanical thing that’s happening. Advertising makes it more black and white.

    Advertising also tends to make me more fluent. Because when I’ve told the other person that I stutter, I don’t have to hide it as much anymore. It’s already out there. There’s no going through a conversation seeing how long I can go without stuttering. That’s why I try to advertise at the beginning of job interviews, even if I haven’t stuttered yet.

    It also gives me a sense of control in conversation and projects openness and comfort with my stutter/speech. There’s something I’ve always hated about conversations when I’m stuttering, the other person seeing I’m stuttering, yet neither of us acknowledges it. It always felt awkward to me, like they could tell I was uncomfortable with my speech. So advertising has been great for that reason.

    In terms of how I advertise, it really depends on the situation. So if I’m just going up to a stranger, it’s not the first thing I say. But if I do stutter on a word, I’ll generally throw in “Oh, and excuse me, I stutter, so it might take a moment or two longer for me to say what I’m going to say.” If it’s a friend, I might try to have a conversation about stuttering and how it’s affected my life, or my involvement in the stuttering community. In interviews, I really lay it out there from the beginning, so that all my cards are on the table and they know I’m being proactive about it. But there are so many ways to do it. I relate to your problem with stuttering badly as you’re advertising. I definitely get stuck more sometimes and it sucks, but I do think advertising makes for less awkwardness overall. And I guess the point is not to NOT stutter…

    Ahh, sorry this is so long! I didn’t realize I had so many thoughts about advertising until I started typing. i also might be avoiding work…

    • Emma,

      Thanks for the comment! And thanks for the ideas. I admit that I do need to try advertising. I think it’d definitely take the edge off. There’s just not a lot of opportunity right now where I am (at life, and at work). Maybe if there’s a big change …

      I have been curious what other people really think about my speech, though. And maybe if I ask them at this point, they’d be like, “yeah, whatever.”

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