The presenter of this paper has consented to have a personal email address posted here if
you wish to raise further questions and/or comments. Contact Russ Hicks at 


From: Julie Watson
Date: 10/1/99
Time: 8:19:03 PM
Remote Name:


Thanks for the great article on Toastmasters, Russ. You made a reference to leadership skills being taught in
addition to public speaking. As a people manager I would be interested in hearing about that aspect. Thanks. 

Re: Toastmasters

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/4/99
Time: 1:29:43 AM
Remote Name:


Hello Julie, 

Yes indeed. There are TONS of leadership positions within Toastmasters. They range from officers in the
individual clubs (Sergeant at Arms up through the President), then the District Officers like Area, Division and
District Governor, and on up into the International Officers like International Directors, Vice Presidents and
ultimately the President of Toastmasters International. It's similar to the organizational structure of a large
corporation. Toastmasters has nearly 200,000 members worldwide, so you can see how you can have
leadership experience all the way from a small 10 member club, up to the entire 200,000 member

Personally I've held every office in my club plus a year each as Area Governor (over about six clubs) and
Division Governor (over about six areas). These are what you might call "line" positions, each position
having increasing amounts of responsibility. The line positions of District Governor (over about six
Divisions) on up to International President pretty much calls for a full time commitment. I was asked to run
for an office leading up to District Governor in three years, but I declined realizing I didn't want to devote that
much of my life to Toastmasters. I greatly respect those who do, however! 

In addition to "line" positions, there is also a plethora of "staff" positions, mainly at the District Staff level. I
was District Directory Editor for two years, and am currently District Alignment Chairman this year. Again,
this parallels the line and staff positions of major business corporations. 

Toastmasters does a wonderful job of providing excellent officer training courses and materials. This training
is done by Toastmasters themselves (OURselves) so you not only get an opportunity to be trained but to
participate in training yourself. Training is highly emphasized in all aspects of Toastmasters. 

There are two fundamental "tracks" in Toastmasters, first the "communication" track which emphasizes
speaking as the primary activity, and second the "leadership" track which emphasizes organizational
leadership as the primary activity. The ultimate educational rank of DTM, or Distinguished Toastmaster, is the
culmination of both tracks. (I achieve this rank just last summer after 11 years in Toastmasters. Whew!) 

Perhaps the "Mission of the Club" in Toastmasters says it best: 

"The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in
which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster
self-confidence and personal growth." 

So you can see where leadership skills are emphasized just as much communication skills. As a matter of fact,
the basic Toastmasters manual is titled the "Communication and Leadership Program." 

As you can tell, I could go on endlessly on this topic. It's an exciting program. I hope I've answered at least
some of your question. If you have any further questions, or would like me to get more specific on this one,
just fire away. I love this stuff! 


Moses from the Bible

From: Benny Ravid
Date: 10/2/99
Time: 12:36:11 AM
Remote Name:


I heard a theory that Moses (from the Bible) was obliged to stutter, otherwise no body would listen to him as
he had really though things to say. What do you think about?

Re: Moses from the Bible

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/4/99
Time: 2:16:29 AM
Remote Name:


Hello Benny, 

In the King James Version of the Bible, Exodus 4:10, it says "And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I
am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and
of a slow tongue." 

In the Living Bible, that same verse becomes: "But Moses pleaded, 'Oh Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I
never have been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me, for I have a speech impediment." 

From that verse we have deduced that Moses stuttered. (I smile at that leap of faith, but hey, it sounds good to
me!) It also tells us that whatever Moses had, he had it before God spoke to him from the burning bush,
where this conversation took place. 

If that is all true, the theory you heard on Moses being "obliged" to stutter would have to have been
predestined in Moses growing up, not as a result of what God said to Moses from the burning bush. So your
belief in that theory would depend on your belief in predestination. Or possibly that God was looking
specifically for a stutterer! Now wouldn't THAT be cool! 

In Exodus 4:14, God offers Moses' brother Aaron to speak for him, but strangely Aaron only plays a
relatively minor role in the ensuing life of Moses. Hmmm╔? Is fluency that unimportant? Possibly╔
probably╔ so╔ 

In any event, to have a distinct way of speaking helps to distinguish a person from the masses of other people.
I find it hard to believe that Moses would have been a severe stutterer, complete with terrible struggles to be
fluent and have a bunch of head-jerking or foot-stomping secondaries. (But who am I to make those

I do know that I am known very well in Toastmasters in Dallas (and a little nationwide) as one who stutters.
And yes, I do think it helps to be a little "different" from everyone else. I know it's helped me more than it's
hurt me, and people certainly remember me. But do they pay more attention to me BECAUSE I stutter? I don't
know, but perhaps I like to think so. 

You pose a very interesting question, Benny. I wish I was smart enough to answer it. 

What do YOU think? 


public speaking for stutterers

From: Blair Vick
Date: 10/5/99
Time: 9:36:54 AM
Remote Name:


Hello! I am a first year graduate student at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, and I am
currently enrolled in a stuttering class instructed by Dr. Joseph Kalinowski. During this class, I have found
myself to be extremely interested in the personal experiences of those that stutter. For this reason, I wanted to
specifically address your reactions to the anxiety accompanied with public speaking for persons who stutter.
Currently, in our stuttering class, we have been learning about avoidance, expectancy, and struggle behaviors
associated with the task of speaking for those that stutter. Do you find in your public speaking endeavors or
any communicative act that you are using any of these compensatory strategies to avoid stuttering? I would
assume that being constantly concerned with ways to avoid stuttering would add an enourmous amount of
stress, pressure, and even effort to the act of speaking. Obviously, you have been very successful at your
quest to become a reputable speaker, but do you find it a "mental struggle" at times between your intended
message and your efforts not to stutter? I am really interested and fascinated about what goes on in the minds
of those that stutter during speaking. It must require a lot of attention on each word of an utterance to avoid a
potential stuttering block. Do persons who stutter have to strategically plan what they are going to say based
on what they know they can or cannot say while delivering a speech? I enjoyed your article, and your
refreshing views on the issue of public speaking. Blair Vick

Re: public speaking for stutterers

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/6/99
Time: 11:33:15 AM
Remote Name:


Hello Blair, 

First of all, thanks for that question. It's a very legitimate one. 

Second, seeing that you're from eastern NC, I hope you didn't wash away in the recent floods. Watching
what was happening in NC from here in Dallas looked like a world class mess. Our son spent some flight
training at MCAS Cherry Point, south of you, so we know the territory. North Carolina is a beautiful state.
More trees than the rest of the US combined! 

But back to your question╔ You asked, "Do you find in your public speaking endeavors or any
communicative act that you are using any of these compensatory strategies to avoid stuttering?" My answer is
no. I use no techniques whatsoever to avoid stuttering. It's been said - absolutely correctly - that "we stutter
when we try not to stutter." The more I try to be fluent, the less fluent I become. Yes, when I'm in front of an
audience (or any other time for that matter), I stutter. That's just me. That's the way I talk. In my youth (I'm
59 now), I struggled and avoided and did all kinds of things to keep from stuttering. It didn't work then, and
it doesn't work now. So over the years I've learned to stutter easily and openly, with virtually no struggle to
keep from stuttering. The result is that I can now communicate pretty well, stuttering and all. Other people
either don't care or subconsciously filter it out - or probably both. As long as I communicate well, my fluency
plays virtually no part in my speeches. (It took me forever to realize that, by the way.) Fluency and
communication are two different concepts. 

You also said, "I would assume that being constantly concerned with ways to avoid stuttering would add an
enormous amount of stress, pressure, and even effort to the act of speaking." Truer words have never been
spoken! That's why I avoid those ways with a vengeance. If I let my stuttering out easily and openly, it
doesn't interfere with my communication at all. If there's a trick to any of this, that's the trick. And it's really
not a trick, it's just being honest with yourself and your audience. I stutter. That's me. Listen to what I'm
saying, not how I'm saying it. And they do! Amazing, isn't it? 

You also asked, "╔do you find it a 'mental struggle' at times between your intended message and your
efforts not to stutter?" My answer is no because I have use nothing to keep from stuttering. Fluent - and
boring - speakers are dime a dozen. And I'm not one of them, thank heavens! Ha, ha! 

Another question you asked is, "Do persons who stutter have to strategically plan what they are going to say
based on what they know they can or cannot say while delivering a speech?" My answer is I can only speak
for myself, not for all stutterers. I definitely strategically plan my speeches for maximum communicative
effect, not just to be fluent. Fluency plays virtually no part in my speech planning. 


Blair, let me say that your overall question (and my answers) illustrates that I'm a prime example of the rule
that all stutterers are vastly different. I'm slightly more fluent in front of an audience rather than one-on-one. I
stutter noticeably in either case, but slightly less up in front of a group of people. But the more I fight it, the
worse it gets. So by not fighting it all the time, I can concentrate on COMMUNICATING more effectively.
And that's the name of the game. 

Do I get nervous? Absolutely! But it's for the same reason that anyone gets nervous. It's called adrenaline, the
"fight or flight" syndrome. That's what makes this so much fun. Like riding up the first long ramp on a
humongous roller coaster. It's a real rush! If you were bored with it, the ride itself wouldn't be half as much
fun. And believe me, this ride is more fun than any roller coaster you can imagine! 

Thanks for your question, Blair. And good luck in school! Please keep in touch. 


Email: Personal home page: 

Leadership and stuttering

From: Benny Ravid
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 2:52:22 AM
Remote Name:


Would you recommend taking a leadereship workshop or other such program for PWS?

Re: Leadership and stuttering

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 9:24:49 AM
Remote Name:


Good morning Benny, 

I'm impressed that you're up at nearly 3:00 AM reading a paper - mine especially! :-) Where do you live? Was
it really 3:00 in the morning where you are? 

Anyway, in answer to your question, certainly. People who stutter are really no different than anyone else. If
other people - fluent people - can profit from leadership programs, stutterers can too. We also like to sing,
dance, play the guitar, roller skate, eat (my weakness!), hang out with friends╔ you name it, we do it just
like everyone else. 

What's a little unusual about public speaking is that we (people who stutter) have a built in fear of doing
things we supposedly can't do, or aren't supposed to be able to do. But the problem is OUR thinking about
our own limitations. Once we break through the barrier of doing something like public speaking, and finding
out that we really can do it and probably even enjoy it, the sky's the limit. 

Leadership? Absolutely. I understand that Moses and Winston Churchill, both people who stuttered, were
pretty good at leading people. Fluent people should be as good! :-) 

Good question, Benny. Thanks for asking! 


Re: Leadership and stuttering

From: Benedikt Benediktsson
Date: 10/8/99
Time: 10:51:26 AM
Remote Name:


I absolutely agree. I myself and many others too, have found out that the fear of public speaking is not so
much caused by the stuttering, but more by the general fear most people have for public speaking. We have
used the stuttering as an excuse for not speaking in public. I have found it giving me a great kick to speak in
radio or in front of a group of people where I have full attention from everyone. I am sure that courses in
public speaking are very relevant for us who stutter. Probably more relevant than for others, because we need
to realize our capabilities which have been hidden under the stuttering for years.


From: Laurie from Minnesota
Date: 10/11/99
Time: 11:59:46 AM
Remote Name:


Congratulations on your work with Toastmasters. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to take that first
step toward public speaking. Thank you for giving other stutterers something to consider.

Re: congratulations

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/11/99
Time: 4:10:05 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Laurie! 

Thanks for your kind words. Yeah, getting started was scary, no doubt. But that's another story I'll tell you
sometime╔ Looking back on things, and knowing what I know now, it really shouldn't have been scary at
all. It's like riding a roller coaster: Your first time going up that long first ramp, you think your heart is going
to jump right out of your chest! But once you get started - and find out that it's not nearly as dangerous as it
looks - it becomes a LOT of fun! I look forward to all my Toastmaster activities these days. It's more fun than
a barrel of monkeys! 

Thanks for your comments! Glad to have you on this on-line conference. I hope you're learning a lot. I know
that I sure am! 

Best regards, 


Are stutterers the same?

From: Jeff Knox
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 9:31:10 AM
Remote Name:


Mr. Hicks, I enjoyed the article. It points out a couple of interesting facts: people are only concerned about
themselves, and stutterers are like other people--only concerned about themselves. However, I think there
may be one difference--stutterers giving a public address-such as speaking before a conference--may be
concerned about the physical act of speaking more than a nonstutterer who may be concerned with a
generalized "not being a good speaker" problem. What do you think? 


Re: Are stutterers the same?

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 3:17:18 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Jeff, 

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I agree with you. I'm not sure if there's any scientific evidence to back this
up, but it sure makes sense to me! 

I've long suspected there are two chains of thought regarding the fear of public speaking: 

1. Fluent people think, "My mind will go blank or I'll say something stupid. Either way, I'll look like an idiot
in front of all these people." 

2. People who stutter think, "I'm not going to be able to say ANYTHING, and I'll look like an idiot in front
of all these people." 

There are infinite variations on these thoughts, but I still think those are the central themes. Fluent speakers are
more afraid of mental mistakes while stutterers are more afraid of the inability to speak at all. But either way,
the result is the same: "... and I'll look like an idiot ..." 

People, stutterers or not, are deathly afraid of looking like fools in front of people they desperately want to
impress. That's just human nature. So in that sense, we're all alike. But the specific fear that triggers this
response is somewhat different between stutterers and fluent people - at least in my opinion. 

Personally, I think that the stuttering fear is slightly easier to come to grips with than the "mental breakdown"
fear because of the specificness of the cause. We KNOW what we're afraid of! Fluent people have more of a
"formless dread" fear that is harder to put your fingers on. And on the theory that fear of the unknown is
scarier than a fear of the known, I'd rather deal with my fear of the known, thank you very much! 

But fear is fear any way you look at it. Whether it's real or imaginary is fundamentally irrelevant. We all have
to learn to face our fears and deal with them as best we can. Personally Toastmasters has helped me face my
fears better than anything else I've ever done in my whole life. If we, as stutterers, can stand up and face our
fears in front of people, we can actually become role models for being able to face fear. "If he can do it, I can
do it!" I've had many people come up to me and credit me with giving them the courage to face their fears -
which most of the time have NOTHING to do with stuttering! To me, that's a great feeling! That's part of the
"gift of stuttering" that so many stutterers talk about. I wouldn't trade places with anyone! 

Thanks again for you comments, Jeff. And welcome to the on-line conference. Don't be a stranger! 

Best regards, 


Stutters Becoming Public Speakers

From: Ed Phillips, Buckner,MO
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 3:51:09 PM
Remote Name:


I have to agree that a stutter is no different than any other individual, and if he sets his mind to it, he or she can
become a public speaker, or any thing else they wish to be. 

In 1963 when I start First grade in school, The Kansas City Mo, school district had 5 speak therapist, and
their boss. In five weeks, I, as a stutter went through all five therapist, each leaving the school in tears
because not feeling that they could help me. The sixth week their boss, Mrs. Johnson met with me and told
me that for the next five years it was her and I, she also told me that there was no one else in the district like
me, I was that bad of a stutter. 

Years later I became interested in a religion that incourages its members to learn to speak publicily. I became
determine to try my best to do so. I was convinced that if I really put effort into it, one day it would happen. 

And dispite the fact that most of those in authority felt that because of the stutter problem I would never be
very good at it, Today I regularily give 45 minute biblical talks, every two to three months, to groups ranging
in size of 50 to 250 people, and weekly teach others how to speak using Fluency, Sense stress, Modulation,
and all the other facets of public speaking that that makes a good public speaker. 

Also today as far as being a stutter, I realize that I will always be one, and to talk to another person one to one,
You can still hear a hint of that stutter. But from that platform, it is like a stutter singing, there is not sign of a
speach problem. 

This is all because I never gave up on myself, and would not let others cause me give up. 

Yours truely Ed Phillips

Re: Stutters Becoming Public Speakers

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 11:21:50 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Ed, 

Good story! My only comment is that when I speak in public, I still stutter just like I always do. Admittedly
I'm slightly more fluent up on stage than when I'm talking one-on-one (yeah, I know I'm weird), but I still
stutter. The good news is that no one seems to care. I've won many public speaking awards in Toastmasters,
but somehow I've learned to COMMUNICATE well enough that my lack of fluency is unimportant. It's a
great feeling! 

Thanks for you comments, Ed. Good luck to you! 

Best regards, 



Date: 10/16/99
Time: 10:04:33 AM
Remote Name:




From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/16/99
Time: 5:54:43 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Kenya! 

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my paper. I, too, share your fear of heights. John Harrison (who
also has a paper in this conference) and I had a conversation about bungee jumping several years ago, and that
really puts this whole topic of fear in perspective! I just know I'd be dead before the cord tightened. Ooooo!!!
Even Ferris wheels at carnivals I'm not too fond of! Snakes are another of my phobias. My ultimate worst
nightmare is being chased off the edge of a tall building by a swarm of rattlesnakes! Aaaahhhh!!!!! 

I love to tell stories. My best successes in Toastmasters involve personal stories. I have a cousin who I grew
up with named Roe. My middle name is Dee, and I've mentally written a book titled "The Adventures of Roe
and Dee" which has provided me countless stories of growing up like Calvin and Hobbs. The amazing thing
is that these stories are for most part TRUE! I've enhanced them (only slightly!) for the purposes of telling the
stories in my Toastmaster speeches, but people come to me all the time asking me to tell them more Roe and
Dee stories. They'll even listen to the same story many times, just like kids listen to popular Mother Goose
stories over and over. People relate to stories, and I enjoy both telling and writing stories. I'm glad you enjoy

Good luck in school and keep in touch! 

Best regards, 


Public Speaking

From: Jeff Shames
Date: 10/16/99
Time: 10:24:35 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Russ- 

Thank you for your excellent article. As I have told you before you have been an inspiration to me. I
remember at the NSP Convention in Denver how helpful it was to see you deliver the speech with which you
had won the Toastmasters Division Contest. That night at the banquet we spoke for a long time about the issue
of public speaking and stuttering. I had then only recently joined a Toastmasters club. 

After four years in Toastmasters now I have learned to go with whatever is happening with my speech.
Sometimes, for short periods, I am able to be fluent. More often my fluency comes and goes; I know not
when. In general, I try not to force the issue, which makes my blocks more severe. Sometimes this is not

Several weeks ago I was the Toastmaster of the meeting. Since several of the speakers were giving advanced
speeches, I felt it my duty to include in their introcution the objective of their speeches. (These are included for
each manual speech.) It happened that much of the content of the objectives was vowel onset words, which
are more difficult for me. I was stuttering a fair amount, and having rather hard blocks. I was tired, and just
did the best I could. With all, it was a great meeting. 

Thanks, Russ. You are a hero of mine.

Re: Public Speaking

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/19/99
Time: 4:45:12 PM
Remote Name:


Hi Jeff, 

People like you are what make the NSA worthwhile for me and for everyone else. I'm amazed we have such a
hard time getting across the concept of the "gift of stuttering" with people like you around. We would have
never met if we both hadn't stuttered. Amazing, isn't it? 

Vowel sounds have always bothered me too. It's good not to be alone! :-) 

But you know, the amazing thing is that if you asked people in your audience if your stuttering bothered them
during your introduction of the speakers (and reading the objectives of their speeches), they would have
looked at you with a puzzled look and said something like "uh ... no ... did you stutter? Oh yeah, I guess
maybe you did. But so what? You did a good job." 

People just don't care if we stutter - AS LONG AS WE COMMUNICATE WELL! 

Life is an interesting journey, isn't it? And I'm glad we're in the same boat! 

Take care, 


Public Speaking

From: Joseph Diaz-USA
Date: 10/18/99
Time: 8:02:57 PM
Remote Name:


Great story. Under your personal journey, you left out. Roomed with Joseph Diaz at least 9 NSP-NSA

Re: Public Speaking

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/19/99
Time: 4:25:33 PM
Remote Name:



Indeed I did! And such an honor it was/is to room with a luminary such as yourself! :-) 

Here's to more conventions, roommate! 


RE: Public Speaking For Stutters

From: Seana L. Wade
Date: 10/19/99
Time: 11:41:33 PM
Remote Name:


Mr. Hicks, 

I would just like to say congratulations and to also say that I completely agree with what you said about
communication being one of the most inportant aspects of people's lives. I am currently a graduate student in
SLP at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. My main reason for getting into this field was
so I could learn to help people communicate more effectively, because communication is so vital. I just wanted
to Thank you for reemphasizing that point. Regardless if you are a fluent speaker or a stutter the KEY is to
just communicate effectively!!

RE: Public Speaking For Stutter(er)s

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 11:28:12 PM
Remote Name:



Thank you for your kind words. You're very fortunate to be going to school at USA in Mobile. Steve Hood is
absolutely the very best there is! And my friend Joe Klein is probably a classmate of yours. Please give both
of them my very best regards if you see them. 

Good luck in your school and career, Seana, and I hope our paths cross some day! 

Take care, 


Public Speaking

From: Angele Jumonville
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 10:05:40 PM
Remote Name:


Congratulations Mr. Hicks on all of your success in life. I also think that you are an inspiration for persons
who stutter and also for "fluent" speakers. I am a graduate student at the University of South Alabama in
Mobile, and I have seen many people, including myself at times, who are afraid of facing their fears. It
sounds like you have come a long way throughout your life and learned a lot. I hope that we can all
understand and learn from all that you have experienced.

Re: Public Speaking

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 11:11:01 PM
Remote Name:


Hello Angele, 

Thanks for your kind words. 

One of the things I've learned is that you don't have to be brave to jump off a cliff. Sometimes it just takes the
right person standing behind you to give you a push at the right time. I've been very fortunate to have some
good people standing behind me at critical times in my life. 

The amazing thing is to actually ENJOY doing things that used to scare the daylights out of you. That's what
happened to me in public speaking and Toastmasters. I enjoy the heck out of it now! And no one is more
amazed at that than me! 

Good luck in your career, Angele. You had a great start at USA Mobile. Steve Hood is the best there is. 

Best regards,