Accepting Yourself and Your Stammer

Two years ago I made one of my smartest moves. I joined Kings Speakers, part of Toastmasters International 90 year old worldwide organisation of nearly 16,000 clubs with around 350,000 members in 140 countries. Kings Speakers so named after the film The King’s Speech and is one of only 3 TM clubs in the world specifically for anyone with a stammer or other social anxiety

I’ve had a stammer on and off all my life and have tried numerous methods to “cure” myself of it. Hypnotherapy, NLP, Meditation to name but a few and none of these worked. This was largely my fault as in joining Kings Speakers I realised that there wasn’t anything to cure, it was a question of accepting whom I am and being happy with that.

It was all about learning that in any face to face communication, the words that come out of your mouth only account for around 10% of the total communication, the remaining 90% is communicated by your physiology eg. your facial expressions, eyes, mouth, and all other body movements, even the tonality of your voice and the clothes you wear and the way you walk up to the stage or wherever you’re speaking from. I learned that the communication starts long before the speaker has opened their mouth.

Therefore, the odd stammer is not going to make any difference whatsoever to the overall communication and if you’re authentic and sincere, the listener(s) will get 100% of what you’re saying totally regardless of any stammer or disfluency.

I have given several speeches within the club, and have also filled many of the other functions which involve speaking at the meeting to give a report, e.g. Timekeeper, Evaluator, Table-Topics Master, and Toastmaster of the evening.  It has given me untold confidence to speak in front of a group.

Thus, I learned that if I’m not bothered by stammering, other people aren’t going to be bothered by it either and if I get that others aren’t bothered by it, I’m going to be even less inclined to be bothered by it and probably won’t even think about it. I learned that stammering is no more important than whether or not you wear glasses or hearing aids or the colour of your hair. If other people get that I’m being myself, sincere and genuine they will be truly interested in what I have to say and not bothered in the slightest bit if I do stammer on the occasional word.

Being heard

One of my greatest inspirations has been David Seidler, the screen writer of the film The Kings Speech When he accepted his Academy award for best original screenplay, he said on stage “I accept this award on behalf of all the stammerers throughout the world, we have a voice, we have been heard.”

He also said on another occasion said that the King’s Speech therapist Lionel Logue effectively taught the King that he was no longer the “stammering King” but that he was just the King who occasionally had a stammer. Therefore, whatever your name is, you’re not John or Alice or Peter the stammerer, you’re John or Alice or Peter who just occasionally has a stammer.

 

Tony Weiss