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Self-help For Stammering

Tips for coming to terms with stammering and building confidence so that you can live your best life. 

So you stammer. It can have a big impact on many areas of your life, but it doesn't have to. Here are things you can do to help yourself.

Have you suddenly started stammering? If you're looking for help, see Help If You Have Just Started Stammering.

On this page:    

Talk about it  
Meet others who stammer
Telling people you stammer  
Voluntary stammering  
Practise public speaking  
Stammering can bring positives  
Apps & devices  
Further support

Talk about it

Talking about something you might feel embarrassed about can be hard. Especially if no one around you stammers and doesn't understand what it's like. 

Negative experiences and the pressure to hide a stammer can affect mental health. So it's important to talk about how you feel. Try bringing it up with a close friend or family member and discuss how it's affecting you. 

If you don't feel comfortable doing that, why not talk to us? Phone our free helpline on 0808 802 0002 or start a webchat. All our volunteers taking your call either stammer or have a close connection to it, so they know what it's like. 

Meet others who stammer

See our list of Groups & Communities. Meeting others who stammer and realising you're not alone can be life changing. You can share experiences, socialise, get support, practise things and build confidence speaking to others in a safe space. 

There might also be a workplace network you can join. 

If there's nothing in your area, why not start something up? Email communities@stamma.org and we can help.

Keep an eye on our Events page for details of our national conference, quiz nights and more. Become a member for free and we'll keep you up to date with all our upcoming events.

Online communities

You can also connect with others online, such as through our Space For Stammering Facebook group

See Communities & Groups for a list of other UK and international communities. It includes groups for women who stammer and the LGBTQ+ community. 

You can also connect with us on social media:

Telling people you stammer

Telling people that you stammer or mentioning it, aka 'self-advertising', can be hard. Especially if you've spent your life trying not to stammer. 

You might find that bringing it up can take some of the pressure off you. If you know the other person is aware that you stammer, it can make you feel more relaxed because you don't have to hide it.

It could also put the other person at ease too. If they don't understand what's happening when you stammer, they might feel uncomfortable. Or, seeing signs that you're uncomfortable might make them feel uncomfortable in turn. Mentioning your stammer might help prevent this.

You could say something in passing like "By the way, I stammer, so you might hear it sometimes when I speak". Or "I just want to let know that I sometimes stammer. It's not something you need to worry about. Just give me time". Then speak about something else.

But don't apologise for stammering. It's not something you need to apologise for. And only mention it if it feels comfortable.

Some studies* have found that if you tell people you stammer, it can improve their perception of you. It can show people that you are owning your stammer. And that you're confident about telling people what you'd like them to do. Watch U.S. therapist Courtney Byrd talk about the benefits of telling people you stammer.

Peoples' reactions can vary, however. Most people are receptive and might say "That's okay", if you tell them you stammer. A minority might react in an unhelpful or unkind way. 

If this happens, try and focus on the fact that you've been confident and assertive enough to mention it. Their reaction is not your responsibility.

Voluntary stammering

'Voluntary stammering' is doing a 'fake' stammer when you're talking with someone. This might seem strange, especially if you usually try hard not to stammer. So why do it?

Lots of us try not to stammer because we're worried about peoples' reactions. A lot of the time, though, these worries are unfounded and people might not react at all if we stammer. 

The idea of voluntary stammering is to fake stammer on sounds you don't normally fear. For example, slipping in a little repetition when you feel in control of your speech. 

Then see what the response is. Does the other person react at all?  If they don't, knowing this might make you feel more confident when you stammer for real.

As mentioned in the section above, most people are welcoming. A small minority might react in an unhelpful way. Try and focus on the positive responses.

If this seems daunting, why not try it out with us? Call our helpline and give it a go. Or do it in a safe space like a stammering group.

Speech & language therapy or other courses could help you work on it too. See Adult Therapy & Courses or Children/Teen Therapy & Courses.

Practise public speaking

Let's face it, public speaking is the stuff of nightmares for most people, even those who don't stammer. 

But lots of us have to do it for work or uni. Practising it might help in other situations, such as when you're out with a group of friends. Some stammering groups might let you practise doing speeches to build confidence. 

Or you could try going to a public speaking club. At these, you can practise talking in front of others or giving speeches. They're usually for the general public but they're really supportive places. People are only allowed to give positive feedback. 

Search online for 'Toastmasters' or 'Speakers' Clubs' to find one near you. In London there's a Toastmasters club especially for people who stammer

Also in London, City Lit runs short courses in public speaking for people who stammer.

Stammering can bring positives

Living with a stammer can be a real challenge, not least because of the stigma that surrounds it. It's understandable, therefore, that some feel negatively towards their speech.

Try and think of the positive things that your experience has given you. Many people say stammering has made them empathetic, resilient, determined and resourceful. Or that it's given them great listening skills, inner strength and a wide vocabulary. 

Some say that when they stammer they are speaking spontaneously and naturally. Many celebrate their difference and the community of people who stammer. Some are starting to push back against the demand for fluency. 

See What is Stammering Pride? to find out more.

Apps & devices

There's also a range of apps for stammering. See Stammering Apps & Devices to find out more.

Some aim to increase fluency and reduce your stammer. You can download these and use them with earphones in speaking situations, like a coffee shop. There's also a couple of fluency devices that do a similar thing but they're expensive. Other apps address specific aspects of the stammering experience. 

Further support

Coming to terms with stammering, accepting it and finding ways to live well with it doesn't happen overnight. Unravelling years of built-up feelings based on bad experiences can be difficult. 

Speaking might be physically exhausting and frustrating for you, which might be stopping you from doing things.

If you feel you'd like more support, see Adult Stammering Therapy & Courses. There you can find out how to access speech & language therapy or enrol on a stammering course. Plus, there's information about talking therapies.

Conclusion

Many people feel that their stammer is challenging. But it doesn't have to stop you from doing things or going for the career you want.

There are people who stammer working in all industries and at all levels. See for yourself on our Influential People Who Stammer page. There are world-famous actors and pop stars, acclaimed novelists, even CEOs of multinational companies who stammer.

You're not alone. Reach out. See ways to Get Involved with us here at STAMMA and the stammering community.

Check out our Your Voice section. It’s full of articles from people who stammer about what's helped them, succeeding at work and building relationships.

More support & information

What next?

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Please consider making a donation to STAMMA: click here. You'll be helping us to: 

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Thank you.

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