by Michael Caggiano
GOING OFF TO COLLEGE? Here are a few tips from a recent graduate.
As a recent college graduate who has stuttered for 23 years, I would like to pass along a few tips to deal with stuttering for those about to begin their college career.
First, let people know you stutter, Depending on the severity, its often a lot easier than trying to hide it by avoiding certain words, or speaking situations. By telling or letting people know you stutter you will be able to deal with it on your own terms. It is no longer a secret that you must work to keep hidden.
Once the cat is out of the bag, the listener now knows you stutter. This is helpful in two ways. First, the listener expects you to stutter and will not be surprised when you do. Secondly, there is no longer any pressure on you to be a fluent speaker.
This will make both you and the listener more comfortable. They will have more patience while waiting for you, and will be less likely to interrupt you, walk away, or say/do something inappropriate (all of which for me, negatively influence my speech). When you are no longer constantly trying to be 100 percent fluent, you don’t work as hard trying to hide it and it actually becomes easier to manage.
It seems odd, but people will actually be impressed when you tell them you stutter. The fact that you came out and told them, shows that you are managing your stuttering and you are in control. It is not something you are ashamed of.
Wear a “Friends” shirt around campus, at class, and in the dorms. This is an easy, indirect way to advertise the fact that you stutter without having to say so. You might be surprised about the reaction. I wore mine a few times, told friends (no pun intended) about the organization and they were so impressed they actually bought T-shirts themselves. Soon enough I had about a dozen friends walking around in Friends shirts
TALK TO YOUR PROFESSOR
Talk to your professor during the first few days of class. (Introducing yourself to a professor is a good idea even if you don’t stutter so they can put a face to a name on their long list of students.) Introduce yourself and let him/her know “I stutter, it’s not a big deal, just sometimes it takes me a little longer to say what I want”. This way if you choose not to participate in class, the professor will know it is because you stutter and not because you didn’t do the work.
GIVING A PRESENTATION
Public speaking is often difficult for people who stutter. Before giving a presentation it helps to let the class know you stutter and if you want, make a joke to get the presentation rolling. This can be done by again telling the class “ you stutter, its not a big deal, and sometimes it takes a little longer to say what you want to say,… which works out because that means I only need about 8 minutes worth of material for a 10 minute presentation.” You do this and I promise you’ll be much more comfortable while giving that presentation.
IF PEOPLE FIND OUT YOU STUTTER….
the world is not going to end, and chances are people will find out as soon as you start talking anyway.
Remember, that often stuttering is a bigger deal in your mind than it is in other people’s minds. People will react to your stuttering based on how you react to it. If you are comfortable with it, chances are, your listener will be to.