Navigating Speech Under Pressure: Strategies for Effective Communication for Those Who Stutter


Communication is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, but for those who stutter, it can be a daunting challenge, especially under pressure. This article delves into the significance of the advice “Don’t Try to Hold the Floor” and explores practical ways individuals who stutter (PWS) can enhance their communication skills under pressure.

The Burden of Lengthy Speech:

Under pressure, the instinct to express oneself can lead to the temptation to talk at length. This approach is akin to running on a healed broken leg; it exacerbates the risk of stutters, making the communication process more challenging. In such situations, the key is not to silence oneself but to keep it short.

“Hold the Floor” and Its Pitfalls:

The concept of “holding the floor,” or keeping the conversation ongoing to prevent others from participating, is prevalent among both fluent speakers and PWS. This tendency is more pronounced among individuals who stutter, possibly due to past experiences of losing the speech floor because of stuttering. However, attempting to hold the floor can be disastrous for PWS, leading to the repetition of unnecessary words or sounds and creating a communication pattern that is far from effective.

The Antipode of Effective Communication:

In an effort to hold the floor, PWS might resort to endlessly repeating words like “like,” “you know,” or making sounds such as clicking, ticking, or panting. This creates a communication style that is the opposite of effective and engaging dialogue. Listeners, regardless of the speaker’s fluency, prefer a coherent and smooth flow of words. The repetitive nature of holding the floor can be perceived as an assault of broken words, adding pressure not only on the listener but also on the individual who stutters.

Viewing Communication as a Dialogue:

Encouraging PWS to view speaking as a dialogue shifts the perspective from a monologue to an interactive exchange. The goal is to create an inclusive conversation by saying less, asking questions, and actively listening. This approach not only reduces the pressure on the PWS but also fosters a more engaging and dynamic communication environment. It shifts the focus from the fear of stuttering to the art of effective communication.

Talk Less, Reduce Pressure:

The advice to talk less under pressure serves as a practical strategy for PWS. By limiting the number of spoken words, the pressure on the individual decreases, creating a more comfortable speaking environment. This reduction in pressure is essential for individuals who are still working on controlling their stuttering.

The Journey Towards Fluent Speech:

The reassurance that, as stuttering fades, individuals will gain the ability to hold the floor with fluent speech is a beacon of hope. Patience becomes a crucial virtue on this journey. The optimism is grounded in the experiences of countless individuals who stutter, forming a growing community of individuals who have successfully navigated their stuttering challenges.


Embracing the advice of not trying to hold the floor allows individuals who stutter to transform their approach to communication. By adopting a concise and strategic speaking style, focusing on the quality rather than the quantity of words spoken, PWS can alleviate the pressure on themselves and create a more effective and enjoyable conversational experience for both themselves and their listeners. The journey toward fluent speech may require patience, but it is a journey well worth taking.

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