About Us

Hi there.
My name is Mark Austin, and for many years  I have been an individual who stuttered to various degrees. Worse than the stutter however was the anxiety I felt in social situations, the decisions I made about my self-worth as a result of my “defect” or “disorder”, and how I limited my life to avoid being in situations where I may stutter and feel deep embarrassment, shame and inadequacy,which were painful deeply rooted feelings.

The memories most vividly burned into my psyche are those trying to communicate with my father, a man I found fearsome and intimidating who was determined to ‘toughen up’ his anxious and sensitive son. “No son of mine’s gonna be a sissy,” he would say. Then of course the mocking in secondary school, where I was given the nickname “Elmer Fudd”, the stuttering and lisping hunter of Bugs Bunny fame. And for a young shy male, the challenge of talking to girls and peers in a world uncomfortable with stuttering created massive anxiety.

Very early on in life I realised that stuttering would limit my life so at home I would try and beat my siblings to answer the phone. I joined the debating team at school, to face my fear. In my late twenties life lead me to several personal development courses that increased my confidence and helped me let go of much pain from my past. As well I took sales positions, joined organisations that required dealing with the public and worked in hospitality, finding that if I was in a ‘role’, I stuttered less.

What would throw me though was interactions with authority, very alpha males, angry and aggressive customers, those who treated me as lower than them, beautiful women and successful people I judged internally to be better than me. Also within my various roles in education, hospitality and retail, if my performance, behaviour or knowledge was questioned and found wanting then my stutter could easily return.

If at any times my confidence was low, or I feared looking stupid or uncool, often I would stutter again.

What I found helped me reduce my stutter immensely was personal development. Despite most speech experts stating that stuttering was caused by genetics, speech mechanics and non psychological factors, my greatest gains in fluent speech came when my self-esteem and confidence were increased, most often in a workshop situation. These were not incremental gains-they were quantum leaps.

I remembered starting to stutter when my father would talk AT me. Stammering helped give me time to think of the right thing to say, especially if I thought I’d done something wrong and might be punished. In a workshop or other situation where I felt safe and free of judgement, I was able to verbalise these events clearly and powerfully. This gave me tangible experience that I was actually born a fluent speaker who had developed blocks to fluency rather than a person with a disorder.

This helped me reduce my conscious and unconscious doubt and fear, and the amount of pre-speech editing, mental rehearsal and trying to ‘get it right. I actually stopped seeing myself as a person who stuttered. In fact when people pointed out an occasional speech hesitancy I was often surprised. 

In a recent course I did called “Speaking with Confidence”, based on the principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), I began to see my stutter not as a disorder but as something that could actually be a gift to help me value speaking and listening, and give me motivation to become a master communicator.         (See the video section next for my talk at the end of the course.)

My catastrophe became my challenge, then my challenge became the chariot I could use to follow my path of inspiring, educating and moving people to action in pursuits of their own goals and greatness. The work I did on myself was the tool that helped unearth the gifts I wanted to share with the world. The desire to overcome my stammer was the motivation to get my hands dirty and dig into what held me back in life.

So if you would like to express yourself easily and freely, give your words wings, feel confident in your communication and impact others with your speech, then please contact me.

Below is a link to a short Toastmasters speech I gave. Yes I also lisp a little and have an odd shaped mouth and my lips seem to trip up my words at times. and I do falter on my words a little..oh..did I mention I sometimes ‘spray’ when I talk? Yuk! Acceptance of imperfection helps here!


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Speaking With Confidence

Reframing the Stutter in 2018

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