People Who Stutter Project to Become Eloquent Speakers
Observers in Melbourne, Australia were inspired to witness people who stutter practising their public speaking and voice projection techniques in the middle of Princes Park. After years of avoiding speaking situations and using tricks to get through stuttering behaviour; with the help of The McGuire Programme, they began their journey to become eloquent, effective communicators. As one passer-by commented: "they certainly don't sound like they are holding back with their speech anymore, this is fantastic!" - read on to find out more...
Melbourne, AU - The crisp, dry ground crackled underfoot as the fans of Carlton Blues and Western Bulldogs walked through Princes Park on the way to cheer on their heroines in Round Five of the inaugural AFL Women's competition. As they made their way to Ikon Park stadium, they came across a very different set of athletes taking part in a unique training session of their own.
The unexpectedly warm week of weather had encouraged thirty team-mates to take their training session out of the hotel conference room and onto the gorgeous green grass of the park; thirty people working very hard to get good at their sport. Not the sport of Australian Rules Football but the "Sport of Speaking".
For years, even decades, these individuals had found their lives restricted by their stutter but now, like the 30 women stepping out onto the oval next door, they had the chance to start living their own dream.
Four New Students arrived on Wednesday night: nervous, anxious, alone. By Thursday morning they were beginning to get to know their teammates, getting to know their Four Physical Weapons against stuttering, and getting to know the training drills that would help them develop the skills and techniques to become eloquent, effective communicators.
On Saturday morning, we were preparing to step out for our own practice matches. On Sunday afternoon, we left the hotel to go and compete in our own 'competitions': work, school, university, social situations.
The McGuire Programme teaches a breathing and speaking technique to help people who stutter become eloquent and effective communicators; it also teaches us to change our mentality towards our stutter and our speech - we no longer play it safe and avoid tricky words or sounds, we play to win; we play to be the best speakers we can be.
With this mentality in mind, we took our public speaking workshops (named Harrison Workshops after John C Harrison, author of "Redefining Stuttering") into the public eye to tackle the shame and guilt that we have felt about speaking; we were confident and intrigued to see how 'fluent speakers' would respond when they saw a group of people enjoying speaking and having fun: to the surprise of our New Students, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging!
The Public Speaking workshops laid the foundation for our bigger speaking challenges later on Saturday and added some vocal variety to the basic cycle of speech that we were replacing our old stuttering behaviours with. On Wednesday evening, our New Students were nervous, stumbling and frustrated stutterers, by Saturday evening they were beginning to show glimpses of the eloquent, enjoyable and effective communicators that they always knew they could be.
Years of believing we couldn't speak, believing that effective communication was for 'other people', feeling that frustration as we began to let go of our hopes and aspirations, to settle for less in life. Like the ladies taking to the field for the Women's AFL match; we just need an opportunity to make our dreams become reality. On that first Saturday in March, Princes Park had two groups of people working hard to make their own dreams come true.