Friday, April 27, 2007

Speaking Skills

When I get nervous, like most people I stutter and stumble over words. I simply stumble more often than a lot of people.

Speaking smoothly, clearly, and properly is an essential part of succeeding in life. It's shallow, certainly, but I certainly admit that I'm also not above making quick judgments based on how someone
speaks. I definitely judge people on grammar and vocabulary. Worse, I do form opinions based on strong accents. That's human nature, but it isn't right.

I speak very well if I rehearse ahead of time and stick to a visualized script. I can even do well with an outline, but I need a crutch.

When I speak to a group, I see the words visually, as opposed to "hearing thoughts." This can cause stumbling, but usually it works to my advantage. Speaking slowly to a group is never a bad thing.

Something I plan to write about at length in another journal entry is how I won my one and only election campaign. Let's be honest and admit it wasn't because I was popular. It was probably intended as a mean joke... but things went better than people expected. When I had
to make a speech to the entire elementary school, I managed to do so without collapsing on stage.

How does someone considered "autistic" speak to a group? How can I perform "on stage" at all?

Practice, like anyone else!!!

No matter who you are, speaking skills are developed. Some people are naturally gifted speakers -- I'm not. I practice "in my head" for hours, planning every word. I also rehearse rhythm and tone, aspects that are important to other people. I think about raising and lowering my voice, using more than words to convey meaning. I also practice moving my hands in ways that seem natural. When I move my hands, I am a lot less likely to "flap and slap."

Public speaking is probably an unlikely skill for most autistic individuals. I would never, never force a person to take a speech class, but I still think such courses help everyone. My confidence has increased a lot with each speaking invitation I receive. And best of all, speaking to groups has improved my interpersonal speaking skills.

1 comment:

  1. I thought your presentation yesterday was articulate and poignant. Thank you for enlightening me and the rest of the class!


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