9 Fluency Strategies and Techniques You Should Know About

Do you know how you can increase your fluency? These nine widely used and effective speech therapy strategies will help you become a more fluent speaker.

Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sheeran and Joe Biden are personalities from different fields. They are united by sheer excellence in their respective realms.

Besides being highly adored figures, there is another common factor which unites them.

All three of them struggled with stuttering at some point in their lives.

However, they did not let their speech disfluency define who they are.

They found a way of dealing with their stuttering.

While Monroe used a breathing technique, Biden sought refuge in poetry.

Sheeran found a cure in singing.

No magic trick instantly cured their stuttering. All of them tried fluency strategies.

You too can try them to reduce your stutters and enhance your fluency.

Here is a compilation of 9 fluency strategies you should try:

For children and adolescents

1. Pull Out

In the pull out technique, we don’t try to stop stuttering. We try to modify it. We try to figure out where the tension is whenever we stutter.

Next, we proceed to reduce the tension to resume speaking.

For example, a majority of people who stutter (PWS) struggle with words starting with “P”. These words involve tension in the lips.

We close our lips and exhale air simultaneously while saying “P”. If you start stuttering at “P” you may try to reduce the tension in your lips to continue your speech.

You can try this method using pseudo-stuttering. Where we fake stuttering to practice the pull out strategy.

2. Cancellation

Cancellation strategy is similar to pull out.

Like pull out, we pause our speech when we stutter and figure out where the tension is.However, we don’t resume our speech from that point, but repeat the word with reduced tension.

Watch pull out and cancellation strategies in the video below (Length: 8 minutes)

3. Preparatory Sets

In most cases, we know which word we will stutter on in our speech. Those are our “feared words.”

After anticipating a stutter, we stretch the first sound of that word. For example, if we know we will stutter at “Hello”, we need to stretch the “H” sound.

We use the preparatory sets before stuttering and not while stuttering.

For teenagers and adults

4. Easy Onset

This is a strategy where we begin our speech with relaxed muscles and stretch our first word. Subsequently, we also release air before speaking.

This helps in reducing tension in our muscles.

We relax the parts involved in speech while speaking. Research shows that this method is very effective.

Saying a word beginning with a vowel is often difficult for PWS. You can try saying “Adam saw an aeroplane”.

Are you hitting the vowels with too much force?

If so, try saying it like this, “hhhh-Adam saw hhh-an hhh-aeroplane”. We are letting some air out before “Adam,” to start the airflow.

Saying the /h/ sound keeps the vocal folds apart and relaxed. Prolonging the /h/ sound like /hhh/ will bring the vocal folds closer with ease and smoothness.

Gradually, you can shorten the /h/ sound like this — “hhh-Adam”, “hh-Adam”, and “h-Adam”. Finally you will be able to say “Adam” and “aeroplane” without the preceding sound.

5. Light Articulatory Contact

We use three parts of our mouth while talking — lips, teeth and tongue (the articulators).

Plosive sounds like /b/, /d/, /g/, /k/, /p/ and /t/ constrict the oral cavity. They require hard lip and tongue movements.

Hard contact obstructs airflow in the oral cavity. Light or soft contact is a way of speaking where the contact between the articulators is very gentle.

You can learn more about light articulatory contact and easy onset from the video shown below (Length: 7 minutes):

6. Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF)

Our stuttering decreases when we are speaking in chorus. DAF is a method which uses choral speaking to enhance fluency.

Here, a device or an app plays our speech back to us with the delay of some milliseconds. The delay can be 200 milliseconds.

Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology conducted a study in New Orleans. They measured stuttering event frequency, reading time and severity on 14 adults using DAF and a control group of 14 adults.

DAF reduced the disfluency in the experimental group significantly. Several other studies have shown the effectiveness of this method.

7. Sing-to-start

Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran and Megan Washington are all talented musicians. Besides that, they all started singing as a method to counter stuttering.

We do not stutter while singing, owing to various reasons. Firstly, we do not face the pressure of communicating as we do IRL.

Also, we know the lyrics by heart. Most importantly, we move our articulators differently while we sing.

In sing-to-start method, we begin our speech with the idea of signing it. Hence, we start with a rhythm but gradually drop it.

For example, you want to say “Hello, my name is Lyzzie.” First, mentally prepare yourself that this is a lyric of a song and you will sing it.

Then, start the first word “Hello” with a rhythm, as if you are singing. In this way, you will not stutter in the first word.

Once you are past “Hello”, do not sing the entire line, rather say it as you normally would. Start the next sentence with the same intention of singing.

This helps us curb stuttering in the first word, and we can smoothly move on to the next words.

8. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Breathing pattern plays a vital role in shaping fluency. Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe curbed her stuttering using this technique.

A lot of us breathe in a shallow manner. It is chest breathing aka breathing from shoulders. In this method, we first fill our stomach with air. Minimal air goes into the lungs.

The diaphragm is a muscle below our lungs. When we inhale the diaphragm contracts.

Diaphragmatic breathing fills our stomach and abdomen with air. It is a form of deep breathing.

To reduce stuttering when we begin a sentence, we need to first take a deep breath and only start speaking as we slowly exhale from our abdomen.

9. Continuous Phonation

Continuous phonation is the elongated version of easy onset. First, ensure that your breathing is diaphragmatic.

This’ll relax our throat and neck muscles. While speaking, start the first syllable using the easy onset method. We reduce tension in our muscles to produce soft vibrations in vocal cords.

Next, we increase our volume to a normal speaking level but reduce it again as we come to the next syllable.

We try to accommodate a few words in one diaphragmatic breath. Once out of the bit, we again take a deep breath.

For example, if we try to say “I am a king.”

First, take a deep breath. As you exhale, start with “I”. Say it using the easy onset technique.

Start every single syllable using the easy onset method — producing low and soft vibrations of the vocal cords. In this case, there are four syllables. So you will be using easy onset four times.

Driving around the barriers

There is no proven cure for stuttering. If we consider our stuttering as barriers on a road, these methods will not ensure the removal of the barriers.

Instead, it will teach us a way of driving around the barriers. Research has proved the efficacy of each method.

At Stamurai, we recommend the knowledge and practice of these methods to enhance fluency.

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