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Stutter Challenge – 100+ Contacts with Strangers

McGuire Programme Ireland received a lovely email from a person who was approached by one of our members on Shop Street in Galway, Ireland.

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Talking to Strangers

Joe O Donnell, Regional Director of McGuire Programme Ireland received this lovely email on 12th November 2022 from a person who was approached by one of our members (Harry) on Shop Street in Galway, Ireland.

Harry was attending the McGuire Programme November Course for people who stutter and one of the exercises we do on the course is to challenge ourselves* to interact and speak with strangers (the general public) while using our new speaking techniques (*Beyond Stutter Challenge)

Myself and my wife Patricia were in Galway today, she wanted to browse a couple of shops before the Christmas madness sets in and I was brought along as a reluctant sidekick… I hate shopping… and I hate Christmas shopping all the more! 

We had thankfully finished around lunchtime and we were walking down Shop Street on our way home. As I informed Trish that I wouldn’t be going near a shop again in 2022 (did I mention that I hate shopping?!) a young gentleman stopped us to ask us for directions. He was looking for the way to Eyre Square.

We pointed him in the right direction  and told him it wasn’t too far and after we did, he told us his name was Harry and he was on the McGuire Programme for his stutter. He said he had been tasked to speak to 100 people in Galway today and thanked us for stopping to talk to him. I asked Harry what number we were and he confidently told us we were no. 112 and gave us a cheeky smile and a wink as we wished him well and he went on his way. 

I’m not sure if “Harry from Dublin, in Galway today” is enough for you to track him down, but if it is, could you please pass on our thanks to him and to keep up the great work on the programme. Our brief interaction with him today was absolutely brilliant, the highlight of the day and definitely made the slog through the shops worth it!


You are probably thinking ‘WOW!, that’s amazing, but why so many contacts?’ Well, there are a number of reasons for this, and I will explain ‘WHY SO MANY?’ & ‘WHY GO ABOVE AND BEYOND THE 100 TARGET?’.

Why so many contacts?

1. Reducing the severity of stuttering requires hard evidence/proof/solid examples that we can articulate/vocalize sounds that have become feared over time. A stutter won’t accept promises, speculation, or hearsay, only hard evidence, that we can articulate/vocalize the feared sound.  

2. This is why on courses, like the one in Galway mentioned above, our members have to make 100+ contacts on Fridays, and another 100+ on Saturdays – to collect the hard evidence needed. 

3. Another reason why is we have thousands of examples that stuttering is stronger than us. That we will always lose to stuttering. That no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to articulate/vocalize a sound of a feared word. That we cannot do what a 3-year-old child can do so easily. This over time became our perception and belief about ourselves.

Our perception of ‘I think I can win’ turns into the belief of ‘I KNOW I can win’.

4. We now have the ‘techniques – referred to as weapons’ to start winning against this ‘thing’ (phobia) called stuttering that requires ‘proof’, (hard evidence, solid examples) that we can indeed articulate/vocalize whatever sound we want without the despised FSDTA (Freezing, Struggle, Distortion, Tricks, and Avoidances).

Talking to Strangers - 100-plus-contacts
Talking to strangers – beyond stutter challenge – 100+ street contacts

5. Collecting this ‘hard evidence’ requires MANY contacts with strangers (who are the closest we can come to real-life situations) to outweigh the thousands of examples that we can’t do this simple thing called speaking. Then our perception of ‘I think I can win’ turns into the belief of ‘I KNOW I can win’.

You are probably now thinking ‘WOW!, but for how long?’ Well, there are a number of reasons for this too and there will be a time when we can reduce the number of contacts with strangers, I will explain ‘WHEN TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CONTACTS!’.

When to reduce the number of contacts?

1. If you have been doing 100 contacts a day for the first week after the course, or fighting your way out of the swamp (the swamp of FSDTA), AND have less than one OCFSDTA a week (OC refers to Out of Control), AND your confidence is 100% and fear 0% in the real world/all situations, AND you are sticking to basics/beginner mode, then you can cautiously reduce the number of overkilling contacts a day, keeping in mind the following points:

2. Everyone’s different, but around 100+ contacts a day for the first week after our first course, or fighting our way out of the swamp (refer to the definition above), is necessary to really establish the new habits, especially the new mental habit of ‘honesty’.

3. However, if the fear is increasing and your confidence is going down, AND you’re experiencing more than 1 OCFSDTA a week, it’s important you prepare to start doing 100+ contacts a day again.

4. It’s also important to remember that you still have to stay an absolute beginner/with the war mentality (doing what needs to be done) and constantly practice for 30 days solid. It’s just the 100 contacts a day AFTER the first week home that can be reduced, again, if your confidence is 100% and your fear is 0%

5. And a note for our current members; remember Direction #5 – overkill feared words/sounds to the boring stage is the most difficult of the 6 Directions requiring FOCUSED time and effort (we can’t be doing anything else) whereas the other directions can be done while going about one’s day.

Thank you Paul for your lovely email and kind words. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas (without the shopping madness) and a Happy New in 2023!!! You also gave us a reason to write a very important post, much appreciated.