Monday, April 12, 2010

Power and Control

Last night I read John H.'s book and found the first few pages really interesting. In his book, he describes the first step to be claiming space and maintaining a firm support on the feet. The main purpose of this exercise was to get comfortable on stage or during the situations where we feel extremely uncomfortable or prone to stuttering. This was interesting as it provided guidance on how one could become more comfortable during the moments of blocking or when dealing with the fear prior to blocking. The second exercise John described was to speak up and this means raising volume to as much as 10 times to the current volume. This exercise was to test the amount of power we like to keep during conversations and how we can increase that power. The third exercise was to talk in a melodious tone as if you are talking to a toddler. This would make speech more interesting to people and to bring expressions and emphasis in out speaking. The fourth exercise was to add pauses to make speech more dramatic. As a PWS, we fear silence and more specifically abrupt pauses between our blocks. And by doing this exercise, we would be in more control of the times when we space out or get stuck up in massive blocks. The fifth exercise was to maintain eye-contact with the audience. John also detailed a follow-up exercise which I would read again tonight and practice it. John also mentioned a very important point that it is important to apply these exercises to the point where you feel uncomfortable. This uncomfortable feeling is natural and if it is not there, that means you ought to exaggerate more what you are doing. Reading these few points gave me a lot of confidence for today's presentation.
I woke up in the morning and my mind was still thinking about those few points. I was constantly going to the moment when I would be presenting and watching out for the feared words. Despite me realizing it, it was hard to control my mind going back again and again to that moment where I would block. I was thinking of strategies that I read from John's articles to apply in the situations where I felt I would stutter. And then I went to my first class, and had to speak with professor regarding the final project. At first, my mind was thinking about the words where I would block when speaking with him and then I told myself that I would be fine following John's techniques. So I went to speak with the professor. When I was about to speak, I was a little nervous and it showed in my voice. But once I started and continued and didn't stutter much after that.
My next meeting was with my project group just before the presentation. I rehearsed my part in front of them once. For the first few minutes, I was absolutely fluent. I had tried to slow down my pace by adding those pauses and emphasis in my speech. But still I was finding it hard to keep eye-contact. I realized it and once even looked at someone in the group. But when I anticipated blocking, I looked away and continued doing so.
Now it was time to enter the class and wait till the other groups finished presenting since ours was last. I noticed that my attention was on how would I be presenting and how would other people think of me once they saw me presented. How can I control their judgments of me? So instead of paying attention to other's presentation, I was constantly finding ways to make people like me. So mind was thinking that surely I'm gonna block and look nervous, but how can I do it so that my classmates like me.
And then it was our turn. I tried to appear calm and confident. I even took the clicker and felt it thoroughly. And then I waited with patience for my turn to speak. And then it was my turn. I took the clicker walked to the center of the stage and began with loud confident voice and pauses. The first few minutes went quite well. And then after some time I anticipated a feared word and then I tried hard not to stumble upon it. I managed to pass through it with little repetition, but it shook me a little. And now I looked a little anxious and then another feared work I anticipated and blocked on it and so and so it went. Then my part was done and I felt glad that it's over now. Even though I felt relieved for the presentation to be done, I felt a little humiliated with looking nervous and out of control. What must have other people thought about me? I can't even give this simple presentation??
But somehow there was less fear in me in approaching people now. I would just go to some person I knew and start talking to him or her. And what I said to seemed to be genuine and I felt good about it. Then I had to meet another group in an hour. And I felt comfortable meeting them and sharing my ideas with them. I didn't hesitate to give my ideas. The main blocks that happened were due to my anticipation of feared words and getting anxious about encountering them.
I also realized that my speaking pace was a lot faster now. Then I had to meet a second group and even though I appeared to be confident and I spoke a lot faster and again my tendency was to fight the blocks and also the moment when I anticipated blocking, especially on feared words. I tried to substitute my low control over my speech by telling people that I am this and I am that, showing my positive side to people so that they approve of me despite my blocking.
At last I came back home tired and felt my speech muscles are exhausted. In my mind, I was still wondering that how should I handle blocks. My options in not to stutter and speak fluently.

I also realized that why I always stumble on the phone saying "hello". It was because I already give the other person all power and control over the conversation. If I say "hello" with a slightly loud voice, or in animated tone I won't block.

For tomorrow, my goal is to maintain more eye-contact with people even during the moments of blocking and also to monitor my pace by adding pauses in between. And also, to continue with the observer role.

No comments:

Post a Comment