Let me begin with a confession: to me every speaker sounds as if he has a stutter. Why? Very simply, because the medical profession say I have severe hearing loss. Nowadays with most speakers I hear about one word in three clearly; if I’m lucky I may catch two in three. Yet despite this personal challenge I love hearing a good speaker, one who inspires and connects intimately with me.
When I’m in the presence of a great communicator it is not the words that grip me or the clever turns of phrase; instead, it is the passion, the authentic heart’s desire expressing its intuitive, creative energy in that precious moment. Indeed, I’ve found that when the human heart sings words flow and the message revealed is so strong it simply cannot be ignored. The Rev Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech comes readily to mind.
Talking of another King, I recently read The King’s Speech – How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi. Here it is noted that people who stutter often sing flawlessly. In singing they morph into fluent, engaging, inspiring human beings. That might sound odd to the general public yet it doesn’t surprise me and I’m certain it won’t surprise you either. As I’ve said before, when the human heart sings words flow. I’ve seen this time and again. Throughout my life I’ve observed hundreds, if not thousands, of speech performances and the greatest communicators all have one thing in common – they speak from the heart.
In my experience when you learn to speak from the heart “something just happens,” it is transformational – you replace the awkward, frightened you with a competent, confident public speaker instead. When you speak from the heart you lose your inhibitions, you become more animated, the life and light of the room, a more fluent, engaging, inspiring individual. And the really great thing is that what people remember is not the awkward moments you have, the words, consonant and sound formation that challenged you or the beautifully crafted phrases you sweated over; instead, they remember you, your message and the spirit in which you delivered it. Words fade easily but the energy you have transmitted, the personal connection you made by speaking from the heart lives forever – stutterer or not.
If you are reading this article it is almost certain you have a stutter. You will find certain words and sounds a real challenge to express. What re-emphasised this for me was watching last month’s Michael Palin’s programme The Kid’s Speech on BBC1. The first thing the course facilitator did to help the children was to focus on fluency through exercises on smooth, slow speech. Carefully and slowly they gave the children the keys to inner confidence. Without this confidence worries come, tension sets-in and uncontrolled stuttering returns.
All great speakers have inner-confidence in abundance. Indeed, the greatest improvement that any speaker can make is to become more confident. Confidence is the speaker’s friend. This aspect of speaking is ignited when you learn to speak from the heart. Learn to do this and you become a transformed speaker because when the human heart sings words flow.
About the author: BOBBY LIVINGSTON is the founder of www.thespeakerscollege.com. He is a talented public speaker, online trainer and leadership consultant. He is the 2010-2012 President of The Greater Glasgow Area of The Association of Speakers Clubs and winner of their 2008 speech competition with his humorous tribute to Scotland’s National Bard Robert Burns. His first book on public speaking will be published in the New Year. He lives in Glasgow, Scotland with his wife and son.