New Programme Designed To Beat Stuttering

Out with it: Michael Lyons (left) and Chris Meintjie team up against stuttering.


Stuttering: “A speech disorder whereby the flow of speech is interrupted by an involuntary repetition of words.”

Chris Meintjies (37) and Michael Lyons (18) from Paarl share this not uncommon condition and have tackled their fight against stuttering as a team.

They have been helped in their efforts by the McGuire Method, a programme offered in over 10 countries. It was brought to South Africa in 2002 by Chris, who had encountered it in London, where it was first established.

Since that time, the programme has helped more than 200 people in South Africa to overcome stuttering, transforming them into articulate, well-spoken people.

Although there is no permanent cure for stuttering, those who suffer from it do reach a point where it can be controlled until it is no longer an embarrassment.

Chris and Michael both stuttered from a very early age and have tried every possible remedy.

“It is especially bad at school level and when you have to do an oral in front of the class. I am very shy to speak, because I’m never sure of what to say. Some people might show understanding when you speak with a stutter, but others will laugh,” Michael says.

He has made use of various types of medication to control his speaking, and first became aware of the programme after reading an article about someone with a similar condition.

For Chris, stuttering was not such a big issue during his school years, but his insecurity grew during his tertiary studies.

“I realised that I would have to do presentations with clients and talk during meetings. I constantly tried to avoid these,” he says.

The two, who are both graduates of this programme, agree that stuttering is as debilitating as any other physical condition.

“You sometimes feel suicidal, but people need to realise that there is hope,” says Chris.

The McGuire course only lasts three to four days and makes use of breathing exercises with the assistance of a speech therapist. Support groups and refresher courses help to maintain its therapeutic effects.

Chris explains that the stutter does not magically disappear when commencing with the programme, but that practice in using the right technique is the key to success.

“People who want to be successful will do anything, but they need to be prepared. They should not be scared of the opinions of others,” says Chris.

Michael still finds it difficult to control his stutter. “I am much more relaxed, but I have anxious moments; I still get nervous when reading in front of the class, but then everyone has their bad days.”

Reading aloud for 10 minutes and doing breathing exercises during free time is a ritual they both practice. It allows them to get into the rhythm of speaking fluently.

The next programme (a four-day intensive course) takes place from Friday 20 November to Sunday 23 November at the Blue Peter Hotel in Cape Town. For more information visit or email Julia Jensen on

Compliments of Pearl Post