Stuttering Experimentation

So I posted a few days ago: How much do you consciously experiment with your stutter and speech? Do you do funny voices while alone? Speed things up? Slow things down? Does any of it help?

For me? I don’t do the funny voices or accents, but I do slow things down. This is very different than people simply saying, “you should slow down.” We get that crap all the time. This is a very conscious effort — monitoring your breathing, relaxing the shoulders, maintaining eye contact, stuttering but moving on, and controlling the pace.

I’ve found some success with this, but it’s difficult to remember all the time. Too often we jump into a conversation and are pinned to its pace. But why? Why not just take a breath?

I was in a meeting the other day and had to present some information. I was under the impression (thanks, fast-paced world!) that I needed to get it out as quickly as possible. So I did. And I stuttered. I wasn’t too fazed, but it was still annoying. Then what happened? Well, someone else had to give some information. And you know what? They’re fluent. And they took their sweet time. Why didn’t I just do that? Because I thought me, the most junior person there should hurry? That the meeting was already going long enough? That speaking slowly would somehow mean that I wasn’t sure of the information I’m presenting? Lesson learned.

I think I need to think of some kind of clever mnemonic before speaking. I’m sure there’s something out there already.

And what about talking faster? I tend to speak faster in the late evening after having a lot of diet coke (usually while at dinner with friends). And I do pretty well, fluency-wise. But I’m not sure if it’s the tired mixed with the caffeine, or being with friends, or the louder music, or what. During the day, it’s not something I’m convinced would work.

Your Stuttering Pace

I don’t get to watch much (any, really) college basketball here in Saudi. But I know it’s March, and it’s almost time for the Madness. Basketball always gets me thinking about pacing. When you watch a game, you’ll almost always hear the commentators talk about who’s dictating the pace. Who’s trying to slow things down or speed things up. That things are getting out of control, so one team calls a timeout.

Nobody who stutters likes to be told to “slow down.” I think it’s stupid advice, too. But what I want is to move at my own pace.

And sometimes I want to stop.

And take a breath.

And then think.

And then take another breath.

Then think about what my speech therapist told me. Then think about my message.

And then let out my words at a comfortable pace. Not too fast, not too slow.

Very often we’re caught in a much faster, higher pressure situation than we’re comfortable with. But is it really? Ordering at the fast food counter during the lunch rush is high pressure? Seriously? Those people behind you can wait. If you give part of your order and are asked, “and?and?and?” You don’t have to rush out a response. What are they going to do if you take a few extra seconds? Kick you out? Don’t forget about the guy in front of you who stared at the menu for five minutes before figuring out what to order. And he was fluent! Do you think he cared about holding up the line? No.

%d bloggers like this: