If This is Advice, I don’t Want It

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If This is Advice, I don’t Want It

If you skid on a wet road, stop as quickly as possible.

If you want to draw a perfect circle, do it slowly and carefully.

If you want to speak fluently, think before you speak.


All of the above might seem to be logical good advice.  In fact, it is all pretty bad advice, because doing these things gives results that are the exact opposite of what you would want. I know, because I’ve tried out all three suggestions. They are definitely bad advice!!


The reason why “Think before you speak” falls into that category of bad advice is that knowing what you are going to say, leads to trying to control how you’ll say it. Speaking is not something that we can do with conscious control. Trying to control how you say words will actually interfere with speaking and will increase the frequency of stuttering.


As I’ve said so often, the mouth moves extremely fast when we are speaking. In fact, normally fluent speakers can say up to 15-20 speech sounds in a second. That’s pretty fast. With conscious control you might get to four sounds per second.


Knowing the words as you say them definitely slows you down, but knowing them before you say them throws the whole speaking system out of balance. The mouth takes it direction from the language that is in your head at any given moment. When you think ahead, the word sometimes passes through your brain before you are ready for it to be shaped by your mouth. By the time you want to say it, the mouth isn’t getting that subconscious direction from the inner language in your brain that is required. Can you see why this would make it hard to talk?


Knowing what you want to say before you say is worse than not beneficial. It takes concentration, makes speaking effortful, and will really make you stutter more. Speaking has to be spontaneous. Being aware of the words you want to say before you say them is an invitation to stutter. If you want to speak with ease and comfort, this is not an advisable thing to do.

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