Thanks To My Stutter, I'm Never Lost For Words

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Re: Never Lost for Words

From: Alan Badmington (to Fiana)
Date: 21 Oct 2008
Time: 12:24:34 -0500
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Hi Fiana, Thank you, so much, for your generous comments. It was kind of you to write in such a vein. My earlier responses to Kris, Marlanna and Andrea touched upon some of the questions you pose, so I hope you will forgive me if I ‘borrow’ some of the content from those exchanges. My first positive experiences of public speaking occurred eight years when I joined a stuttering programme that (inter alia) provided me with tools/techniques to deal with speech blocks and words that held an emotional charge. I felt so comfortable speaking in that safe environment and gained, immensely, in confidence. The Programme also afforded me unlimited opportunities to speak on future courses, and at designated support groups, thus increasing my confidence even further. However, I wished to challenge myself outside that safe supportive environment, so I joined the Association of Speakers Clubs. The tools and confidence that I had earlier acquired enabled me to participate in the public speaking activities without difficulty. Indeed, it was not long before I was winning trophies in competition with the fluent speakers. The judges frequently made favourable comments about some of the tools that I attained while coming to terms with my stuttering (voice projection, pausing, clear articulation/enunciation etc) and recommended to the other (fluent) more experienced contestants that they should follow my example. How ironic. :-) In common with Toastmasters International (which is a similar public speaking organisation in the US and UK), the ASC provides members with a manual that lists numerous public speaking assignments. For example, one assignment relates to speech construction; another covers word pictures, while others offer advice about humour, speaking with passion, gestures, voice intonation etc. In the early days, new members are invited to give an introductory speech in which they speak about themselves, possibly explaining their reasons for joining – it’s known as an ‘Icebreaker’. As time progresses, they are invited to write and present speeches (generally between 6 and 8 minutes duration) in which they demonstrate (individually) each of the assignments to which I referred to above. When each assignment has been completed, the member is invited to give a ‘masterpiece speech’ that incorporates everything that he/she has learned. In addition, each week, members are also invited to take part in a Topics Session, where they speak (for 2/3 minutes) on an impromptu subject (again, this is entirely at the member’s discretion). As time progresses (and they gain experience), they also have opportunities to chair meetings, chair topics sessions, give votes of thanks and provide evaluations of speeches given by other members. There are also other offices which they may hold. Each member chooses the pace at which he/she progresses - there is never any pressure to undertaken any role/task against your will. The majority of the people who attend are non-stutterers. That's not surprising because public speaking has been shown to be the No 1 fear - rated even higher than dying. :-) Those who attend are drawn from varying age groups and walks of life. Some wish to improve their presentational skills for use at work or college etc, while others may wish to prepare for a wedding speech, vote thanks or debate. Being able to speak in public can give you so much confidence and enhance your social skills and personal development. I was able to transfer the gains that I made at the ASC into everyday life. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is seeking a positive speaking experience. Fiana, I should like to thank you for taking the time to read my paper and participating in the threaded discussion. Just like a public speaking club – such feedback is invaluable. I wish you every success with your studies. Kindest regards Alan

Last changed: 10/21/08