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2016 Autumn Speaking Free
2016 Autumn Speaking Free
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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationFriday, May 20th, 2016 at 9:46am
Using Your Technique in the Real World
by Geoff Johnston
National Executive Officer, Australian Speak Easy Association

During our intensive treatment programme or sessions with our speech pathologist we generally learn a technique of breathing and speaking which helps us speak well. Therefore, during the intensive or within the speech pathology clinic we experience the freedom of speech we’re all looking for.

However, outside the clinic or intensive many people relapse within weeks or even hours. Why is this so? The most common reason I believe is the focus in the real world of trying to be fluent, trying to pretend that we’re normal speakers, trying to bluff our way through life by not being honest with ourselves, friends, family and work colleagues.

If this applies to you I simply ask, "has it worked for you?" Perhaps in 80%-90% of speaking situations it has. Perhaps you survive by avoiding speaking situations or specific words and sounds. However, being thrust into a situation that you can’t avoid (job interview, wedding vows) or having to say that dreaded word (your name), results in severe stuttering behaviour (blocking, repetitions, etc.). What’s that old saying, “Only a fool keeps on doing what they’ve always done and expects a different result!” Is it time for a radical shift in your thinking?

Many people have received treatment, have overcome their fear of stuttering and other triggers to stuttering behaviour such as social anxiety disorder and have moved on with their lives without the need to focus on technique to the degree they have in the past. By expanding their speaking comfort zones they have replaced the old negative thoughts, feelings and behaviour with positive ones resulting in quite different attitudes and therefore behaviour in speaking situations.

If this is not you, the likely reason is the lack of assertive self-acceptance that you are NOT a normal speaker but a person who stutters. If you’re actively working on a strategy to overcome your stutter, then perhaps you’re a recovering stutterer.

If you’re still struggling and battling with stuttering the way forward is to be honest with yourself and the world around you by demonstrating that you’re not a normal speaker not so much for other people, but for your own benefit.

How do we do this? Regardless of the technique you’ve been taught the strategy is the same.

You can simply disclose to your listener that you have a stutter and may be a little slow in your speech and asking them to be patient, a great thing to do right up front at a job interview. It takes away the urge to try to be fluent, to try to fool them that you’re a normal speaker which is a recipe for disaster. Just that simple statement shows the interview panel that you’re honest, assertive, self-motivating, etc. Hey, you’ve practically got the job already!

Another way you can be upfront and honest about your status as a speaker is by using really exaggerated technique whatever your technique may be. For example smooth speech at 120 spm or McGuire five words per breath with a good two second pause between phrases. The listener thinks, “There’s something unusual about the way this person is speaking but he has great eye contact and he’s smiling so it’s all OK.” Very often the problem for the listener is when we’re obviously out of control. They don’t know how to react.

Finally, we have perhaps one of the most powerful tools to demonstrate that we’re not a normal speaker and that’s stuttering on purpose. Controlling the stutter rather than allowing it to control you. What better way to overcome the desire to try to hide the fact that we stutter? What better way to smash the silliness of trying to pretend that we don’t stutter? I promise you, we care so much more about whether we stutter or not than our listener! Besides, what other people think about us is really none of our business. We may be able to influence their opinion but in the end they’ll have their own thoughts and beliefs as is their right.

The elusive goal “fluency” will happen as the CONSEQUENCE of all the other activities we engage in to change our perceptions and beliefs, not as the main objective; activities such as joining Toastmasters, being President of the local sporting club, joining a drama group, etc.

Seek out the speaking situations you fear and do them with the attitude “I am a recovering stutterer NOT a fluent speaker”. As long as we pretend to be fluent speakers we will continue to stutter which is why I disagree with the speech pathologists’ main success indicator which is stuttered syllables per minute which places the entire emphasis on “fluency”. How effective is this measure in the case of a covert stutterer who is skilled at avoiding specific words and sounds? It also places the emphasis on speech rather than the beliefs and perceptions which results in stuttering behaviour.

Measure your success by moving forward and embracing speaking situations that you’d previously avoid. Measure your success by your enjoyment when speaking. Measure your success by becoming an effective communicator!

The beginning of that goal for many of us is assertive self-acceptance that we aren’t “normal” speakers by using exaggerated, technique, doing disclosures and voluntary stuttering.

GO FOR IT! What’s the worst that can happen!
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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationTuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 5:41pm
6 tips for your friends and colleagues. Spead the word!
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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationTuesday, May 3rd, 2016 at 3:03pm
The refresher day in Melbourne on the 1st May was an outstanding success. Around 30 people who stutter coming together to support each other and have some fun with their speech. Well done to the attendees. If you weren't there, make sure you are next time.
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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationTuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 11:42am
A great resource. Free e-books written by people, many of whom have recovered from stuttering:
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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationTuesday, April 5th, 2016 at 8:36am
Reminder: The Speak Easy Booster Day in Melbourne is coming up quickly; Sunday 1st May. Please let me know if you'll be attending. See the Autumn Newsletter on the website for details
I look forward to seeing you there. Cheers, Geoff
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