What are the major stuttering techniques? How do they work? Which one is the best for you? Let's try to bring a little bit of clarity into that.
I remember going to a museum one day, and I don't remember exactly what the museum was about, but I remember the guide, the girl who was telling us about the museum. And she often began a sentence with "and." ”And starting from that time - blah, blah, blah… And here you can see - blank.”
Most of the time, it was okay, but sometimes it was weird, and at some point, I realized that she was using a stuttering technique to begin a sentence in a comfortable way.
There are many techniques of that kind; like replacing words, using devices and so on. We're not talking about them today because they help you get through speech impediments, but they're not aiming at really changing your speaking in principle. And what we want to have at the end of the day is freedom from stuttering, 100% confidence that you don't stutter.
If you're trying to get free from stuttering, you might be looking for some "secret." And yes, each method or therapy usually has some core element, but there are so many "secrets" out there, it's easy to get lost. So I want to distil all those techniques into five categories.
These are the techniques which target your speech impediments directly, the very structure of your speech. This is the most common technique actually. Most therapies and methods are using prolongation in some form or another.
There are different types of prolongation; one is more like robotic prolongation when you make all the sounds monotonous. I like more prolongation when you make the first vowel sound in a phrase stronger and deeper launching the whole piece that you're saying, the whole word or phrase.
What caught my attention in that TEDx talk are two things. First, Megan Washington uses that technique from time to time and obliviously this is not enough for building a new automated speaking pattern. Second, she says "that's not me" and that “me” is a huge question. It brings us to stuttering technique category number two.
We don't stutter or we're much more fluent in certain situations. And some people say, "I don't stutter most of the time, I stutter only in these particular settings." So the question many people have is maybe there's just some psychological shift that I need to make to be fluent.
In this video, Tony Robbins cures a man who stutters and he does that on a very psychological level. And he does that tremendously quickly.
Now, I don't believe that it can happen, I mean I don't believe that it can last long term. I don’t believe in hypnosis and such other things as a sustainable long-term technique, but again as you may notice I say "I don't believe." It's all about my belief.
While I'm not a great believer in that technique as the sole thing that can change everything, we must admit that it's a huge piece of stuttering - the psychological thing. Stuttering is not only the physical speed impediments, by far. A huge part of it is our belief and our perception of ourselves as people who stutter.
Some techniques are about the surrounding aspects of our speaking like relaxation, breathing, using lower voice, eye contact and some others. And the central is usually breathing thing because speaking is breathing out words. It's actually the air going out with the words.
So, what can we do with our breathing? While we speak using lower voice, using belly breathing and we spend much less air so as a result we have more air to say our phrase and it's becoming easier.
Stuttering is associated with our speaking from the larynx in a very shallow way. We can say that stuttering causes that shallow speaking, and vice versa that shallow speaking becomes one of the causes of our stuttering.
Initially, I wanted to talk about speaking practice, and it's great to have speaking practice; to read out loud, to speak out loud. Some people say it's great to hold a pencil or pen in the mouth while speaking.
It's all awesome but it's not quite grabbing the point, it's not only about speaking box or speaking mechanism.
In the music video (see the link below), Stormzy is not just singing; he's living it out. His whole body is singing, is saying that, right? Not just the speaking box.
And you might say that this is a performance thing.
Not really. When you're relaxed, when you're enjoying speaking, your entire body is speaking, and the speaking box just follows.
And here we're coming back to that concept of "Me." Quite often when I speak to somebody I feel that I'm in a certain state, I'm more stiff and tense and like feeling myself in a box. My mouth is stiff, and I'm asking myself - why?
Because I have a perception of what is "normal."
If I articulate, if I enunciate, if I move my body that is weird. That is something strange; people would be like, what is that? And that is all going in my mind, that is the perception of what that normal "Me" should be.
You wouldn't probably say that Ed Sheeran or Emily Blunt stopped being authentic selves once they dived into that performance and acting thing, once they got out of that box of normal "Me."
Once we get out, we find another "Me" which is unknown, unexpected, undiscovered but that is also us. It's just bigger than that perception of "normal" us as we try to think of ourselves. So there are many moving pieces, there's a lot of room for transformation here.
Hand stuttering technique is the technique that I used myself. It's about extracting sounds with your hand.
The training speech is a bit slower than my usual pace (it means prolongation is used here as well), but I don't need to use my hand anymore once I've built my new automated speaking pattern. Once you have your confidence that you don't stutter, you don't need it.
You can come back to the technique when you're tired, or you feel like you might have speech impediments. But again in the video "How to stop stuttering" you can see that everyone has disfluencies and glitches in their speech, including the best speakers. That's something that we would be very concerned with. But once you have total confidence that you don't stutter, these glitches and disfluencies just don't matter.
On the one hand, stuttering is an iceberg with several important pieces or parts, so a good therapy should combine several techniques affecting these several parts or pieces (our speech impediments on a very physical level, articulation, relaxation, breathing, eye contact, and all the psychological stuff). So it all should be involved but, on the other hand, we are very different, and since a huge part of stuttering goes with its roots into our personality it's a great idea to try and test various techniques and see what's working best for you.
I'm sure I have missed something so if you're using some other techniques that you love, please leave a comment. If you're using some of the techniques that I mentioned and it's working, or it didn't work, please give your feedback, leave a comment.