A fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the world, but stammering takes this fear to to a whole other level. Imagine being unable to communicate ideas that are so clearly presented in your head, but your body doesn’t allow you to express them. Stammering is a troubling problem for many people all over the planet, and can add worlds of stress to their lives.
This problem can be caused by many different things, including: inability to control speech muscles, blockages of speech organs, muscle twitches, or just general anxiety. Because there are so many causes, it can be hard to identify what is causing the stammer, and even harder to get rid of it.
There is no universal definition for stammer; it varies from person to person depending on the kind of speech problem they have. There is no magic cure that will solve every person’s stammer; many methods usually have to be tried before finding one that is successful. Follow these steps below to see if you can figure out the causes for your stammering while working towards a solution.
1. Identify the specific problem.
Have a friend or family member make note of your behavior when speaking and bring it up with them later. It helps to know every exact detail, like if the stammer shows up every time a “ch” sound is used, or if there’s a certain combination of letters that is causing difficulty.
It is also possible to monitor this problem yourself, but it can be harder to keep track of your internal processes. Carry around a notebook and make a record each time you stammer of what was happening at the time and what vocal sequence was giving you trouble. It’s important to keep track of the event as well to see if it is the stress from a certain situation which is causing the stammer.
2. Have confidence!
Having faith in yourself can go a long way for many things. If you’ve given up before even trying to accomplish something, you are destined to fail. If you’ve had a stammer for a while, you are likely self-conscious about your public speaking, which can make it even more difficult to try to tackle the problem.
Try taking things in small steps. Achieve a small goal first, such as ordering an item off the restaurant menu without faltering. Once you’ve achieved small goals, you can gradually increase the difficulty to make the initially terrifying challenge a real possibility.
3. Consider a speech therapist.
Speech therapists can do wonders for many people having trouble with stutters or stammers. They have been trained in many different forms of treatment, including speech exercises, confidence building, and even psychotherapy if necessary.
The only downside is that this option will almost certainly be more expensive than trying to handle the problem yourself. However, if the problem is serious enough the speech therapist can be of great help.
4. Read a little.
Reading aloud or using your ‘me’ voice is a good way to develop better speech habits. One recommended way to help a stammer is to speed read a few pages. Don’t focus on the meaning of the words, just try to sound them out as fast as you can.
Speed reading can help – don’t focus on the meaning of words, just try and sound them out as fast as you can. This will work on your internal speech patterns which will help you when trying to vocalize them to everyone else.
5. See what others are doing.
This essentially ties into building confidence, but checking out how others speak can help you with your own speech as well. Many people struggle with speaking clearly and audibly, even if they don’t have stammering problems. Realizing you’re not alone in this problem and seeing how common it is to not be able to speak clearly can be a very helpful realization.
If you find someone who does have a very clear and audible speech pattern, you can watch them to see how they vocalize themselves. This might mean seeing their mouth movements, or observing how they use pauses in conversation. Picking up on little tips from good speakers is a great way for anyone to improve their public speaking.
6. The arts.
If you’ve always had an interest in drama or music, now’s a great time to start! Singing is a vocal exercise that works your breathing, syllables, and verbal flow in one go. By practicing singing in an accepting environment, you can also build confidence in public speaking and talking in general. They weren’t kidding when they showed this exercise in the film the King’s Speech!
Drama clubs are another great way to build confidence and speaking skills. You don’t necessarily have to take a role in a play, but even just running fun drama activities can help to boost confidence and develop better speech habits. Who knows, you might even have some fun while you’re at it!
7. Have the right mindset.
Sometimes stammers can be as much of a psychological problem as a physical one. Developing the right mindset can greatly help with the progress towards conquering that stammer.
Going back to the paragraph on confidence, having a positive mindset is crucial to succeeding in anything. Having the will to succeed will help you develop better patterns and get you solving that problem faster.
If you approach something expecting to fail, you’re setting yourself up to not go through with it. If you don’t think it’s possible, you’re not going to put as much time or effort into something that’s ‘hopeless’, so realizing that the problem is solvable is a huge step in the right direction.
8. Learn to relax.
Many people who have stammers also suffer from anxiety – sometimes as a result of the stammer. Learning to relax and calm down can be a great help to building confidence and relaxing your nervous vocal muscle.
Many singers and public speakers go through breathing exercises before putting on any performance to help exercise their air flow and relax in a tense situation. Take a step back and breathe in deeply through the nose for 8 seconds, and then exhale through the mouth for another 8. You can repeat this as many times as you need to, and it will ultimately help you relax and calm those nerves.
Another great de-stressor is to do some yoga. Yoga is a mind and body relaxer that works to calm down the entire body. These kinds of stretches and exercises will provide mental relief and work away at the stress that could be causing the stammer. Yoga also commonly includes the deep breathing exercises, so it’s a great way to mix both the problem solvers into one solution.
Once you’ve managed to get rid of that stammer, you’ll be booming with confidence and be ready to hold that lecture you’ve always wanted to present. Developing confidence can go a long way apart from helping with your stammer, so exercise the tips in this article and you’ll start seeing a new self.