The other side of advertising your stutter

The way that advertising your stutter is supposed to work is that you’re put more at ease. You don’t have to hide, you don’t have to avoid words, you don’t have to feel embarrassed — it’s all out there. And that’s great. That can work.

But there’s another side to advertising — the other person. Or the other people.

Imagine you’re someone who’s covert. You work at a larger company. There’s an all-hands meeting. A new regional manager is coming to talk to everybody about what’s going on, what changes are going to be made, and how everybody is affected.

And the first thing he says is that, well, “I might take a little longer to get my message across because I stutter.”

Then he dives into his spiel, a confident, fluent statement here, a few stutters there, and then by the time it’s over, everybody goes back to their desks. Your desk mate dismisses it all with, “Sounds like our department is fine. I dunno about those other guys though. Well, whatever, at least we got donuts.”

No mention of the stuttering, just another person coming in, talking, stuttering, getting the message across.

And yet, here you are, covert stutterer. If they can do it, why can’t you? That person stood against their fears and delivered a message to a room full of people. Maybe they’ve been doing it for years, but they’re still up there, still trying.

Something like this never happened to me. I don’t know what I would make of it. I’d like to think that if it did, I’d want to reach out to them and ask them about their stuttering.

But also, as I move up slowly at my own company, it makes me wonder about my own next public speech. About my next opportunity to advertise in front of strangers. Who knows, maybe I’ll shake something loose with someone who’s covert.


  1. What I take from this is that there are definitely various stages that a stutterer has to go through. What you described here is a person who has gone past that phase wherein one is greatly affected by what others have to say or think about his stutter. He still stutters, but is confident and without fear. He is not bound to have a breakdown in between or after his speech, or spend the rest of the day analyzing the reactions of the attendees of the meeting. When he is addressing everyone in the meeting, he is more focused on what message to be delivered rather than trying to figure out a way to wiggle out of “the ordeal”. To reach that stage is a milestone which every stutterer must aim to achieve.

    • Mohammad — Absolutely. And it’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I’m not really there at every conversation. But more go this way than don’t — and I think once you pass that tipping point, it starts to get … more comfortable? A little easier? Hard to put into words, I think.

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