Saturday, June 12, 2010

No pill makes you a good public speaker

A reader asks me about medication, because he needs to give an important speech. Here is what I replied:
You do not need medication. You need to challenge yourself. You need  to start working on yourself and not try to find quick-fix solutions that don't exist! You cannot become a good sportsman by taking pills, you need to train.

You need to get at ease when speaking in front of groups so that it feels like talking normally. That's a conditioning and learning process that everyone can do, but it takes time and you have to face
your fears.

There is only one way to do this: to continuously speak in front of people.

I recommend you join a Toastmaster club. Many stutterers have found this useful. Spend the money on the membership fee!

Here is what I did:

You can do that, too!

The more speeches you give the more relaxed you feel and the less likely stuttering will be triggered.


Pam said...

Great speech Tom! Did you win? Really good technique, and you talked about something you know, stuttering. I always encourage people to talk about what they know. Then they can be relaxed with the delivery.

Andrew said...

I don't really agree with what was said.
Even with a lots of pratice, stuttering happens and for important meetings/presentations, stuttering can be a big issue and I don't see anything wrong going for medication in those situations. Not everyone can afford being so openly with stuttering or else they would suffer some consequences.

If I'm not wrong Dr. Maguire took medication when making a presentation not long ago. I read this in one of the comments in this blog.

Tom Weidig said...

Well, Andrew, you are assuming:

1) that medication is making him stutter less. Where is the proof? (he tried it before years ago without much success.)

2) that his stuttering is significant. (it is apparently not, but you couldn't know this.)

3) that he would suffer consequences. (which I am sure he will not as it is an (important) family event.)

AW said...

I'm a physics senior, and a stutterer. Yesterday I gave a presentation. I take a very low dose of Celexa (citalopram) regularly, and I took Xanax (alprazolam) on the day of my presentation. I took 1 g the morning of the presentation, 1.5 gram about 1.5 hours before the presentation, and 0.5 grams right before the presentation.

I was almost 100% fluent! I stuttered on the word "statistics," and a couple of other words, but overall I sounded wonderful.

Xanax does seem to cause cognitive impairment (I locked my keys in the car that same day), so it's not a solution for everyday stuttering, but for occasional presentations, it's fantastic. The impairment did not negatively affect my presentation because I knew the material so well.

When I give a presentation without Xanax, I block on almost every word, and I focus so much on trying to speak that I don't think I'm able to present the material very well.

I used to work as an undergrad chem lab TA (when I was thinking of going into chemistry, which I still love, but not as much as physics :)), and I had no trouble presenting material to students, but that was different. It was more casual, and I was able to use a chalkboard. When I have something to do besides talk and point with laser, that helps.

Also, I am one of only two female students in the class I presented to, and admittedly, sometimes I feel a little bit of a need to prove myself.

My TA and prof both said my presentation was excellent.

One more thing--"facing your fears" and stuttering really badly during an important presentation will not make a person "stronger." Instead, it will make him/her dread the next presentation. The stutterer needs to have a POSITIVE experience in order to change how he/she feels about public speaking. One AWESOME presentation can leave the stutterer feeling confident about future presentations. This is how I feel now. It's the best feeling in the world! I may even take less Xanax next time.