My oral thesis presentation was a huge step out of my comfort zone and the risk of being revealed as a not “normal fluent speaking” person really frightened me.
After my oral bachelor exam in August 2018, I almost immediately began thinking about how my final oral thesis defence presentation would end up more than three years into the future. It was not thoughts about what topic I would choose or the content of the presentation. Instead, my thoughts were all about challenges related to my stuttering.
At first, the difference from the bachelor exam was that the oral thesis presentation had to be in English instead of my mother tongue Danish. And most people who stutter agree that it can be very challenging when you are speaking in a language different from your mother tongue. But secondly, the most frightening part was the fact that the presentation would be a public event. Everyone could show up and watch my presentation. Consequently, I considered accomplishing my presentation without an audience. Instead of seeing this presentation as a great opportunity to present a topic about which I had a lot of knowledge, I would rather just get it over with in front of no audience at all.
At that time, I had accepted that if people saw me as a “normal fluent speaking” person who just had some “tiny” stuttering issues, it would be okay. It was important to me that people were considering me as a person who was barely not stuttering. Related to my stuttering, this oral thesis presentation was a huge step out of my comfort zone and the risk of being revealed as a not “normal fluent speaking” person really frightened me.
To maintain the façade as a normal speaking person, I used tricks and avoidance of words and situations, and in general, I had convinced myself that my stutter did not affect me that much. But from the case above I realized that it was truly a lie. I still had a lot of fear of being exposed as a person who was not in control of my stuttering.
This realization finally gave me enough motivation and courage to deal with my stuttering in a more serious way. Therefore, I decided to join the McGuire Programme. One of my main goals, when I joined the programme, was that this oral thesis presentation should end up being a great experience for me where I could speak without fear.
I was attending my first course in August 2020, and it turned out to be the right place for me. From the course, I acquired some different physical and psychological techniques for getting more control of my stuttering. Furthermore, and the most unique thing about the programme is the fantastic support network consisting of all the other people of the programme.
Now one and a half years later, (February 2022), I have completed the oral thesis defence presentation. I received great support from members of the McGuire Programme, and two of them attended my presentation. It went very well and most of the time I forgot about my stuttering.
Afterwards, I stood back wondering: “What did I exactly fear about this oral thesis defence”?
I know I had feared this situation earlier, but I could not remember how the feeling was. Most of all I think it is because through my process until now working with the McGuire techniques I have finally realized and accepted that I am not a normal fluent speaking person. Instead, I can work with my speech and become an articulate and eloquent speaker.
This assertive self-acceptance has been crucial for me to bring down the fear in all speaking situations.
To summarize, this is a great example of expanding your comfort zone and working with self-acceptance, which I see as some of the key concepts in the work of getting more control of your stuttering. I am very grateful that I chose to join the McGuire Programme and I am really looking forward to the further journey.
Daniel is your first point of contact for people who stutter in the Scandinavian Region.
Around the world, our Regional Directors run the Programme in their respective regions. They organise Courses, Support Groups and Open Nights – among many other events and happenings related to helping people who stutter.
Daniel is very happy to answer any questions you may have so please don’t hesitate to contact him.