Stuttering is a common problem that affects approximately 1% of the world's population. It is a speech disorder that interrupts your normal flow and causes the repetition of certain words or sounds. There is no single cure since everyone is different, but some exercises help reduce stuttering. Reduce anxiety, study your speech pattern, review trigger words, and practice in the real world for great benefits and breakthroughs in overcoming stuttering.
Part 1 of 3: Practice at Home
Step 1. Take deep, controlled breaths to prepare to speak
Anxiety can make stuttering symptoms worse. Before practicing sitting or talking to another person, do some breathing exercises to relax your body. This helps reduce anxiety and prevent stuttering.
- Practice breathing exercises regularly to reduce anxiety.
- It is important that you practice them especially before social interactions to relax. Avoiding social anxiety is very helpful in reducing stuttering.
Step 2. Speak in front of the mirror
Watching you speak will help you analyze your speech pattern. Pay particular attention to those words, sounds, or phrases that make you stutter.
- Maintain eye contact with yourself in front of the mirror. This is very important since when talking to others, making eye contact will help reduce stuttering.
- If you wish, visualize a person in front of the mirror and imagine that you have a conversation with them. This exercise will prepare you to talk to others.
- Start alone, and then include your family or friends in the exercise. You may feel like it's a bit silly to ask someone to watch you speak in front of the mirror, but people generally stutter less when alone. The presence of others in the room will be a trigger that will allow you to analyze your speech pattern.
Step 3. Record yourself on video as you speak
This method allows you to analyze your speech pattern more effectively than when practicing in front of the mirror. Set up your camera and start talking in front of it. Again, start alone and then invite other people to trigger the stutter. Play the video and analyze your speech pattern.
Review the video with your friends and family. They may pick up on things in your speech pattern that you may not have observed and allow you to address these issues
Step 4. Make a list of trigger words and blocks
Generally, people who stutter have certain specific blocks, which are words, phrases, or sounds that are difficult for them to pronounce. These blocks trigger stuttering. Determine yours as you analyze the way you speak.
Before practicing to overcome stuttering, you can avoid trigger words or phrases when speaking in public. With time and practice, hopefully you will learn to deal with these triggers and be able to use them in everyday conversations
Step 5. Practice saying trigger words and blocks
After you identify the blocks that are causing your stuttering, focus on them during your practice sessions. Repeat the words and phrases to desensitize yourself.
- First, focus on slowly pronouncing the trigger words or phrases. Take a deep breath and repeat the words as well as possible. Don't worry if you stutter; this is why you practice.
- When you can better pronounce the trigger words individually, make sentences out of strings of difficult words. Practice saying the sentences slowly and in the best possible way.
Step 6. Lengthen the first syllable of each word
This practice, known as lengthening, helps focus and reduce the tension caused by stuttering. Speak as accurately and calmly as possible when practicing this exercise, focusing on pronouncing each syllable clearly.
- Focus especially on pronouncing the trigger words. Dividing the words allows you to overcome the blocks.
- Don't worry if you stutter during lengthening exercises. The goal is not to speak fluently, but to get used to staying calm when speaking.
Step 7. Practice following a rhythm of speech
People often stutter less while singing, since speaking at a predictable pace prevents the brain from getting confused and getting stuck with words.
For example, you can practice saying words to the tune of a song that you like. This will help reduce stuttering and make practice sessions more fun
Step 8. Read aloud
This practice will allow you to get used to pronouncing words. Focus on pronouncing every syllable in a word. Start by reading aloud a passage you know well. Then choose something completely new as a practice to get used to reading unexpected words.
- Don't worry if you stutter while reading. Keep going!
- Combine activities by reading to the beat. For example, you can use the tune of a song or play a rhythm as you read.
- Use the lengthening technique when reading. Focus on speaking as calmly and slowly as possible.
Step 9. Make phone calls
If you want to practice but aren't ready for face-to-face interactions yet, talking on the phone can be a great exercise. Instead of texting, call your friends and family to chat. Use techniques like lengthening when speaking to reduce stuttering.
Calling the customer service line can also be very helpful. Instead of sending an email, contact the customer service line for some more practice
Part 2 of 3: Public speaking
Step 1. Recognize when you stutter when talking to people
People who stutter are often embarrassed or ashamed of their problem, and often try to hide it. However, this only causes more anxiety, which can make stuttering worse. Overcome your fears by speaking confidently and informing people about stuttering. In this way, you will eliminate the anxiety that people discover it and you will be able to have greater control of the situation.
For example, all you have to say is: "Excuse me if I speak slowly, I usually stutter." You will undoubtedly find that most people fully accept your disorder
Step 2. Visualize and plan social interactions
As you work to overcome your stuttering, plan social interactions to eliminate public speaking anxiety and practice words and phrases in advance.
- For example, if you have a business meeting tomorrow, study the agenda carefully. Anticipate the questions they will ask you and plan your answers. Make sure to study them in advance. Having a ready list of answers and talking points will help you reduce anxiety.
- Understand that social interactions can't always be planned, and at some point you might stutter when the conversation goes in a different direction. In this case, take it easy and visualize the words before speaking to keep your composure.
- Remember that if you run into a blockage and start to stutter, just acknowledge it and ask for a moment to organize your thoughts.
Step 3. Avoid blocks and trigger words
During practice sessions, you may identify specific triggers and blocks that cause stuttering. With time and practice, you will be able to use these words without stuttering. However, until that happens, try to avoid them in public situations so you don't stutter.
Make a list of synonyms for your trigger words. If you identify certain specific words that trigger stuttering, there are probably different words you can use that convey the same meaning. Use a thesaurus to look up synonyms. This way, you can avoid trigger words during a conversation and get the same message across
Step 4. Maintain eye contact with all your interlocutors
When people stutter, they usually break contact with their interlocutors. This behavior stems from the anxiety associated with stuttering the audience. As much as you start to get stuck, make a conscious effort to maintain eye contact. This way, you will appear more confident and can build your confidence to reduce stuttering over time.
If for any reason you break eye contact, regain it while trying to stop stuttering
Step 5. Make movements with your hands
Sometimes stuttering is the result of nervous energy that the body does not know how to process. Making movements with your hands allows you to channel that energy elsewhere. This will distract your brain from stuttering and help you speak more clearly.
This technique is very useful when giving a presentation in public. As you plan your speech, include hand motions to reduce stuttering. Write in your notes the times when you will include them
Step 6. Initiate conversations with random people
This is a great test to check the progress of your exercises. Random conversations cannot be planned. Therefore, apply all your exercises and speak as clearly as possible.
- Start a conversation by introducing yourself and saying, "I stutter and I'm working to improve my speech." You may find that many people are willing to help you.
- Asking for directions is a useful and quick exercise. As much as you know the way, this type of conversation will allow you to interact with people without developing a more extensive dialogue.
Part 3 of 3: Seeking Professional Help
Step 1. See a speech therapist if you don't see improvement
If you've been practicing for months and are not seeing progress, make an appointment with a speech therapist, who will discuss your problem and recommend treatment.
- If you need assistance finding a good professional, ask your GP for referrals or do an internet search for a list of speech therapists where you live.
- You can also contact clinics and hospitals to request recommendations from a good professional.
Step 2. Follow your therapist's directions
Speech therapy (speech therapy) requires a lot of work outside of the office. The professional will surely recommend a series of exercises to do at home. Follow his treatment and do whatever he suggests.
Remember that this can be a lengthy process. You may have to work with the professional for several months. Therefore, please be patient and confident throughout the entire process
Step 3. Visit a support group
You may feel lonely with the stutter. It is not like this! In the United States, it is estimated that 3 million inhabitants and 70 million worldwide suffer from this disorder. There are active stuttering communities that support each other. Joining this source of support will give you the confidence you need to overcome the disorder.
- If you are in the United States, the National Association of Stutterers has support groups. Go to https://westutter.org/chapters/ to find the one closest to you.
- In the UK, the British Stuttering Association also offers support groups. Go to https://stamma.org/connect/local-groups for more information.
- If you live in another country, do an internet search to find a stuttering support group, and don't hesitate to ask for assistance.