Just about everyone has experienced a moment in their lives they stammered nervously or struggled to get their thoughts out. Approximately four times as many men as women stutter, encompassing 70 million people worldwide, or about 1% of the world’s population. Stuttering (or stammering) is a communication disorder that can cause frustration, fear, embarrassment and anxiety.
If you stutter, you may find yourself remaining silent in conversations, withdrawing from social situations, or even isolating yourself completely to avoid having to speak. While there is no definitive cure for stuttering, there are things you can do to help you learn to communicate more effectively. Following are four tips to help you control a stutter.
1. Take a Breath
One way to control stammering is to take a deep breath and speak slowly. If you know you’re about to stutter on a word, exhale first. Exhaling on the word you’re about to stutter on will help you slow down before you speak, which leads us to the next tip.
As you use deep breaths to slow yourself down, you can also use deep breaths to help you enunciate. Taking the time to enunciate words will help your brain control the movement of your mouth, rather than the muscle memory of your mouth controlling you. For example, if you have trouble stuttering on the word “bread” you can enunciate “buh-read”; if you have trouble with the word “kitchen” enunciate “kih-tchen”, and so on.
3. Read Out Loud
Could you make it a daily habit to read aloud? You can read to a close friend or family member, or read to yourself. Pick up a book or magazine, or read an article online out loud to yourself.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. If you go a day or more without speaking out loud, you will likely have difficulty the next time you try to talk to someone. If you make an effort to practice daily, you will find yourself more at ease when you speak. You can practice speaking in front of a mirror, or practice by taking every opportunity you can to speak. For example, instead of ordering food online or using the chat option to talk to customer service, make the phone call. Do the things you’re uncomfortable with to push yourself.
If you are concerned that the stuttering or stammering you are experiencing is connected with feelings of anxiety, please do not hesitate to contact me.