My name is Marion; I am 30, French by nationality, and I manage an investment fund in London. I stuttered from age 6, until recently. I was a very situational stutterer, but my speech could swing from seamless fluency to severe blocks when under pressure, causing humiliating silences. My condition worsened substantially after I graduated from university and started working. I found myself unable to speak in meetings or to have business phone conversations, and presenting was simply out of question. Job interviews were of course very painful. My career was threatened.
I have always been quite ambitious and because I thought my speech would never change, I first worked extra-hard on all aspects other than communication: I basically spent 4 years of my life working all the time and I became an over-achiever. But I was only trying to compensate for my bad speaking skills.
Last year, I finally landed my dream job after 16 interviews and a big presentation. When preparing for those, I recall the feelings of fear and despair. I remember going out of every interview feeling exhausted, ashamed and completely drained of energy, regardless how the interview actually went. Every word was simply an internal battle, like a boxing game – and I would then go home unable to do anything with myself. One day, after an interview, my husband took me out to a Michelin-star restaurant for our anniversary dinner and I am sad to say that I was so shattered that I can’t even remember what I ate (and I am a foodie!).
But there was something I could not get my head around: the fact that like many PWS, I am uber-fluent when I speak to myself. Deep down, I knew there was something I could do. So I started to read as much as I could about stuttering. I first discovered John Harrison, NLP, Ruth Mead, meditation, neuroplasticity, etc. – which were all great, but I found these hard to put in practice. A French friend referred me to Lee’s book and that was the game changer. I consumed it and then contacted Lee and he was so kind in offering extensive free Skype coaching.
The first thing Lee asked me to do was to read aloud and practise autosuggestion. I like self-hypnosis better and I find it quite easy to do. So, for about 3 months, I read for 1-3 hours aloud almost every day (my job involves a lot of reading and I have my own office), and I hypnotised myself 2 x 20 minutes at home + 2 x 20 minutes in the tube to and back from the office. Now, I don’t spend that much time reading aloud but I still practise self-hypnosis 3-4 x a day (about 1 hour in total) and I take almost every opportunity to speak as a practice exercise. I find that the voice modulation crutch works best for me. And unsurprisingly, the more I practise, the less effort it takes.
I am now fluent +99% of the time, and I know that I can be 99.99% fluent when I want to (to me, 99.99% means I speak like a fluent person). At work, I am 99.99% fluent in one-one conversations. During my last work presentation which was two months ago, I was 99.99% fluent for the first 30 minutes (!!!) and maybe 95% thereafter – and I know that will be 99.99% fluent for my next one. I also speak on the phone regularly and I think people on the other end of the line don’t suspect I have a speech issue.
And it’s not just about the outcomes. What is amazing is that, when I speak, I am more and more into my ideas/message – so everything is much more enjoyable. I no longer have stuttering fears and that is so liberating. I still have stutter threats here and there, but I know I can beat them. I was just asked to participate in a panel discussion at work this September, where I will have to speak in front on 300 people and I swear I do not fear it whatsoever. I also focus less on my little self and more on others – at last! My ultimate goal is to be into my ideas at all times and to get rid of all stutter thoughts – period. So I will continue to work hard until I reach that point.
It is my hope that others will take advantage of Lee’s clear, instructive and compelling book and of the free Skype coaching that he and others at Speech Anxiety Anonymous offer. You’ll learn helpful pointers about public speaking in the bargain. It is wonderful to have resources like this: people who actually did stutter but stopped stuttering who will give their time to help other PWS. In addition, I am enjoying the videos of speech coaching that Lee is doing on Twitch.tv/speechwhisperer on the “Game of Tongues”. If you would like to see me “in action” with Lee on GOT, go here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/286302303. I explain my speech journey there. These videos offer a great teaching-tool of their own. I highly recommend them to you. As far as I know, there is nowhere else on the planet where a PWS can find a free book, free coaching and free videos in which ex-stutterers help PWS beat stuttering. Incredibly, every month, they post more Success Stories. So, if you stutter, do yourself a favour and call upon SAA and the passionate, caring Lee for help. You’ll never regret it.
MARION, London, July 2018