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Chiomah Momah: Let Your Voice Be Heard! 5 Tips to Help You Deal with Stuttering

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dreamstime_l_53777409There I was sitting in a focus group organised by my university, making contributions on how mature students could be better catered for. As the only international student participating, I was glad to be able to share my views and perspective. I was enjoying the conversation and had spoken several times but suddenly, as I was about to speak again, it became a struggle to get the words out of my mouth. I stuttered and eventually spluttered out some words. An uneasy silence filled the room, but the moment quickly passed, and I didn’t allow what had just happened to deter me from making further input.

You see, I had made up my mind long ago that I would not allow my stuttering to get in the way, no matter what. I really couldn’t afford to – I knew that as life progressed, I would have to give speeches and presentations, and I was determined to have no excuses. With this resolve, I have given several presentations and even impromptu speeches in front of various types of crowds. In fact, quite a few people who interact with me will tell you that they have no idea I stutter. It wasn’t always like this; at a time my speech was so bad that I could hardly complete a sentence without almost getting frustrated.

If you or anyone you know deals with stuttering, here are a few things that helped me:

Face It
Yep! You stammer, so what? You are in good company. People like Winston Churchill, King George VI, James Earl Jones, Bruce Willis, Shaquille O’Neal, Eric and Julia Roberts all dealt with stuttering, and they didn’t allow it to stop them from speaking or achieving their dreams and destinies. As with all challenges, accepting the reality of this speech impediment is the first step to conquering it.

Be Patient
Many people who stammer speak fast, and this obviously makes things worse. No matter how excited you are to speak, consciously remember to breathe and calm down when speaking. Also remember to pause in between phrases and sentences. However, if your stutter is severe and has nothing to do with speed, just relax and this will help.

Don’t Be Anxious
Anxiety can make even the smoothest speaker stutter. So if you stutter, make sure you try to calm down. Being calm and relaxed will also boost your confidence. Consciously taking deep breaths before you speak will help you calm your nerves so the words can roll off easily.

Pick Your Words
As a person who stutters, you know the particular words and sounds that are difficult for you to say without stammering. For me, one of the most difficult things for me to say was my name (thankfully, this has changed). Even though my name is short and easy for most people to pronounce, it contains certain sounds that could trigger my stuttering. This made introducing myself at meetings or functions a chore. However, once I precede my name with words that I find easier to pronounce, I’m fine.

Practice
Practise speaking slowly and clearly. You can also practise with trusted friends and family members who are willing to help you improve. As a child, my Dad would take a tape recorder, ask me to speak into it and play it so I could hear. We would do this over and over again till my stuttering reduced significantly.

There are also speech therapists out there who can help. Remember it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and let your voice be heard!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Chioma Momah is a lawyer, writer and inspirational parenting blogger. This mother of four is the author of the children's books “First day at the Big School” and “Fun Day at the Museum” as well as the Goals, Gratitude and Growth Journal. Chioma is also the founder of Let's Encourage A Reading Nation" (L.E.A.R.N) which is aimed at improving literacy among children. She holds an L.L.B from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, as well as an MBA from Anglia Ruskin University and an MPA from the University of Exeter (both in the UK). She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Apart from writing on her blog, she enjoys speaking on gender issues, parenting and literacy. Follow her on Facebook at Chiomah’s Blog, Instagram @chiomahmomah and read her posts on  www.chiomah.net.

24 Comments

  1. Kendra

    May 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks.. This came in real handy.
    Although my stuttering is borne out of shyness.

  2. Nnenna

    May 11, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    2 and 3 are the hardest especially anxiety! As your turn reaches to introduce yourself in a crowd (first class in college), your heart is beating so fast and you are practicing your introduction till the time comes and then the words come out smoothly and you heave a huge sigh of relief! Phew! :))) LOL! Story of my life! It should also be noted that laughing when someone stutters is just plain rude!#petpeeve

    • Chiomah

      May 11, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Tell me about! Always hated introductions for this reason but as always we just have to always get with the program! Glad you enjoy reading this

    • Sir S

      May 12, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Introducing myself gets me every time.

  3. TrendySturvs Blog

    May 11, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Very helpful

    trendysturvsblog.com/

  4. Ayo Itoya

    May 11, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Waow! Great pointers, well done

  5. meks

    May 11, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Chioma, sometimes vowels can be difficult to pronounce. Your ”Face It” point is all any stutterer needs to overcome his stuttering. Admit it and work on yourself too. Don’t let anyone reduce to a subhuman being because you stutter.

  6. miss

    May 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Omg .This relates to me.I love it.

  7. Loretta Reveals

    May 11, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Chiomah, you have just simply stated what makes one stand up and make the diferrence in anything in this life we live: ” You see, I had made up my mind long ago that I would not allow my stuttering to get in the way, no matter what. I really couldn’t afford to” The moment we decide we are not going to allow any obstacle come and take permanent residence in our life space, that is the same moment we surmount it! Well done. Insightful write up.

  8. Roli

    May 11, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Good job Chioms! Another well written article. Many thanks for this article. I know it would definitely help someone.

  9. Truth

    May 12, 2016 at 7:55 am

    A job well done Chioma! I’m a stutterer and I have been working on myself for some time now. I got a lot of help from an American NGO. Y’all should find time to check this website: stutteringhelp.org

  10. Omo

    May 12, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Well written and interesting points.

  11. beautifulgirl

    May 12, 2016 at 9:10 am

    mine is worst. i always stutter, nervous, fright name it anything. i think i need help. i cant even remember how i presented my seminar in my final year in school, but they all clapped for me, guess the clap was to encourage me. One day i said i am going to face it. i stood up to give a testimony in church, then i lost it (my confident) i began shaking, stuttering, speaking wrong grammar. mtcheew. i was so ashamed of myself. since then i have not tried it again. i can’t even talk to few people who are concentrating on me. i browse and read online how to get over stage fright and lack of confidence, still am not improving, recently i read that taking too much of coffee can make one nervous. i have stopped taking coffee. what else can i do to improve? cos is getting worst by the day. i can’t look at someone eye ball to eye ball to talk without stuttering. mtcheeeeew. i wasn’t like this bad during my secondary school days. i was a school prefect, i was a head in so many dept. i guess i lost my confident when i lost my 8 years relationship. i felt i have failed myself. i felt i was not good enough. till now i can’t pick up myself. pls what do i do?

    • "changing moniker"

      May 12, 2016 at 10:27 am

      hey beautiful, don’t beat yourself up…like Chioma said, practice. Just like with everything else in life, practice makes perfect. Practice speaking in front of your mirror, with a a tape recorder or your phone (phones have recording devices), with loved ones or in church (join a service group, i.e work with the children, ushering or choir), before you know it you’ll be more confident…and with confidence, comes ease with speaking…
      I wish you all the best.

    • Chiomah

      May 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      You will get better..just keep it at. First off dont be ashamed of it. Then find ways to build you confidence. Like someone mentioned practice in front of friends or go online and find orgs that can help. You are beautiful and dont let the world silence you.

    • Maqxy

      May 14, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Hey beautifulgirl, don’t beat yourself up dear…. Baby steps…. It’ll come. @favouredlaye metioned something that I like…. Start with the children’s department…. the little children oooo not all these evil teens that currently roam the earth…. LOL!!! But seriously, children are some of the least judgemental set of people…. Their hearts are still clean and pure…. They will be patient and will give you time… Volunteer in the children’s department in your church… Read bible passages to them… You’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make… All the best dear!

    • Ayinoluwa

      September 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Hello !I am Ayinoluwa and I have created a Facebook support group for Stutterers in Nigeria. It is called StutterNigeria. We need to support ourselves here since professional help is not easy to find. We also need a platform to encourage each other and help spread awareness. The advice that has been giving on here is brilliant and I hope, with the support group, we can become a community to advice and encourage each other. Please join StutterNigeria on Facebook and invite others too! See you in the group.

  12. favouredlaye

    May 12, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you Chiomah for this lovely and *relatable* write-up. I have always stuttered for as long as I can remember. I remember how difficult and embarrassing it could be sometimes. I remember when in our family morning devotions I will find it difficult to read some verses in the bible because of the beginning sounds of the words and my dad will punish me for being stubborn or *possessed*, lol. Well, one of the ways I tried improving was to start teaching children in church. You have this feeling of being in charge and in control which helps to boost your confidence. So when I have to deliver a speech or talk to a group of people, I just imagine in my mind that they are my Sunday school children (lol), and it helps me.

    • Chiomah

      May 12, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Wow! That musy have been upsetting as a child. Im glad you found a way to deal with this…well done!!

  13. Nkem

    May 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Well done Chioma

  14. micheal

    September 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    My biggest issue wt stamerring is the anxiety aspect.sometimes I just want to say 100words in a second nd it feels like I am going to explode but when am talking with a female I talk with ease buh with friends I dont

    • Chiomah

      January 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Probably because with females you are a bit more conscious so you take your time. With your friends you are comfy so you talk fast..Its not easy but try and slow down.

  15. Ayinoluwa

    September 28, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Hey guys! I am Ayinoluwa and I have created a Facebook support group for Stutterers in Nigeria. It is called StutterNigeria. We need to support ourselves here since professional help is not easy to find. We also need a platform to encourage each other and help spread awareness. The advice that has been giving on here is brilliant and I hope, with the support group, we can become a community to advice and encourage each other. Please join StutterNigeria on Facebook and invite others too! See you in the group.

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