I stuttered from about the age of 7 yrs old until I joined the programme in 2001. Being a covert stutterer, it took me some time to acknowledge that I was a stutterer.
In a one to one scenario, I could cope reasonably well, using tricks, avoidances, and substitutions. Within a group, I hid it reasonably well but was only fooling myself. I could talk to myself, animals and small children, anything that could not determine that I was a stutterer
Public speaking was a no-no and I used to refer to my wife as “her indoors”.
The final straw was when introducing myself to a group of about 40 people – I had to say, after about 5 seconds of trying to speak – “I appear to have forgotten my name. I think it is actually Chris Bland actual.” (actual/ actually was my best trick after ahs and ums). About 5 weeks after that incident, I noticed an article in a local newspaper by Dan Tuohy, about his success in Toastmasters and how the McGuire Programme had enabled him to speak.
I joined the McGuire Programme in June 2001. On a cold afternoon in June 2001, I left my stuttering self behind a tree in Cuba Mall, Wellington NZ.
In May 2003, I was the test speaker for the evaluation contest at the International Toastmasters Convention in Palmerston North NZ. There was an audience of over 250 Toastmasters. Since then, I have done many “speaking things” I could never have imagined before 2001. As one of my colleagues said, when I disclosed to the group, “we will never be able to shut him up now.”
I wish McGuire had been around earlier in my life, however, it wasn’t. Having been a stutterer gave me a greater insight and respect for the way people think and an advantage in dealing with people.
As a person continually working on my stutterer, I continue to expand my comfort zones. From being someone in the background – speaking wise, I am now able to come out to the front and say what I want to say, when I want to say it and how I want to say it.