Stammering is a common phenomenon that affects around 1% of the population, which means in our country there are more than 1 crore people who are suffering from the same.
Stammering often worsens due to our perception. Normally, a person who stammers feels that it’s the only thing that their audience is noticing. This makes them anxious and they end up with many errors in communication like not making eye contact, mumbling, forgetting what they wanted to say, etc.
Needless to say, they don’t leave a good impression on their audience which confirms their belief that stammering ruins it all for them. The fact is that if you accept your stammering (which yes, can be very difficult), you will be able to talk confidently and people will attend to what you are saying and not just the stammer. Think of it as a sneezing fit you have while talking to someone. You don’t feel anxious about it. And the other person doesn’t judge you for sneezing.
Don’t try to avoid stammering. Our mind works in a paradoxical manner and if you try “not to do” something that is natural and beyond your control (like your stammer), it will, in fact, lead to more stammering.
Here is a simple exercise for you to work on your speech. There are four phases to this exercise:
Phase 1: Make a mental note of particular letters or sounds where you stammer. Write a small speech that includes a lot of those letters/ sounds. Every day for half an hour, “intentionally” stammer on all those places. Do it in front of a mirror for at least a week.
Phase 2: Now read this speech and stammer at every single letter and word. Do this exercise in front of the mirror for half an hour every day for a week.
Phase 3: Read a different newspaper article every day and stammer at every word. Do this exercise in front of the mirror for half an hour every day for a week.
Phase 4: Choose at least 1-2 people who can be trusted with being non-judgmental. Tell them about this exercise. Discuss a topic with them every day for a week and stammer frequently and freely.
These exercises work in two ways. Firstly, It makes us habituate with our stammer. It is a researched fact that anxiety decreases when we expose ourselves to it repeatedly. When anxiety decreases, stammering will also reduce automatically. Secondly, as mentioned above, our mind works in a paradoxical manner. So the more you allow it to stammer, the lesser it will.
These exercises, when done regularly, can help reduce stammer. Stammering can be a minor obstacle in life but cannot hinder your growth completely. Great people like Winston Churchill and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Nicole Kidman and closer home, Hrithik Roshan have all battled stammering. With courage and persistence, you can too.