#1 Good News-As members introduce themselves, ask them to add some good news from their recent experience, something good which has happened to them recently.
#2 More Information-As members introduce themselves, ask them to add one more bit of information: Where did you first live when you left home? / Where were you born? / What did your room look like when you were ten years old?
#3 Introduce Someone Else – Instead of introducing yourselves, each person introduces the person next to them and is introduced by that person. Give each pair a few minutes to learn enough about each other to do this. (San Jose)
#4 Special Name Tags – Pass an index card and a pencil or pen to each person and ask them to divide the card into four parts. In each space they are then asked to draw or write something which answers a certain question about themselves. For example: favorite movie or book, favorite place, what their stuttering “looks like,” the animal which best describes them, the animal they would like to be, etc… Then ask members to mingle for ten or fifteen minutes sharing what they wrote with others. Set a time limit you can stay with one person. You can use a bell which means “Switch partners” for this purpose.
#5 “Can You Top This?,” This is a game in which people are asked to share their worst stuttering experience. (These do not have to be true.) Encourage people to ham it up. The winner is the person who gets the most applause. Be sure to make it fun.
#6 Lead everyone through some stretching exercises.
#7 Try some group singing. (This could be done at the end of the meeting, to.)
#8 Get a relaxation or visualization tape to play. Get a book on yoga and get some ideas from that.
#9 Have people share who they would most like to be “in their next life” and why.
#10 Come with pens and a big pad and have everyone participate in drawing a group picture. Then have each person share their experiences with the group. Who were the leaders and who the followers? Did people wonder what others were thinking of them?
#11 Go around the room and have others share what their favorite game as a child was.
#12 The Name Game – Start at one end of the room and have the first person just say their name. The person next to them has to say that person’s name and his or her own. The third person gives the names of the first two people, etc., until the last person must name everyone. A good idea to do this with a lot of new people. Good for the beginning of the meeting and just before the break also. (San Francisco)
#13 Have members just take two minute to go around and shake hands with everyone, introducing themselves.
#14 Do the same as above, but have members choose different names for themselves. These names can be real or fictional. Example: “Hi, my name is Napoleon Bonaparte.”
#15 Play the Name game in combination with #14.
#16 The Alphabet Game – This is based on a children’s word game. It combines speaking in unison, individual speaking, eye contact, and a lot of fun. The first speaker says, “I went to the market and I bought an apple” (or some word beginning with “A”). The second person then leads the whole group in repeating, “I went to the market and I bought an apple and a. . .” He or she adds something beginning with the letter B. The third person then leads the whole group in repeating what has been said so far and then adds a word beginning the letter C, and so on. (Philadelphia Chapter)
#17 Play the above with various topics. Some examples: “I went to the zoo and saw. . . ” / “I went to a party, and I spoke to Aaron, Beth. “I went to the movies and I saw Addicted to Love, Batman and Robin, Con-Air . . .”
#18 Rare Knowledge – Everyone gives examples of weird or little known facts. Allow members to pass if they cannot think of anything.
#19 Self-Therapy for the Stutterer. Have members pre-read a selection from this book and them discuss it at the meeting including how to implement it into our day-to-day speaking lives. At the following meeting we would then spend some time discussing how this worked for us.
#20 To Say What Is Ours. Assign members a selection from this book and discuss it at the meeting.
#21 A Stutterer’s Story by Fred Murray
Have members select a chapter from this book to discuss at a meeting.
#22 Dead Languages by David Shields
Have members read passages from this book.
#23 The Stutterer’s Survival Guide, by Nick Tunbridge
Same as above.
#24 Have members tell their worst stuttering experience and then discuss how they reacted, and how they could have reacted.
#25 Have members share the moment when they felt best about themselves as people who stutter.
#26 Make a list of the ten most difficult situations for members.
#27 Make a list of the situations members find the easiest. Discuss why this is so.
#28 Discuss the question of why some people who stutter do not like to be around others who stutter.
#29 Discuss the dynamics involved in why people who go through stuttering treatment programs often revert to their old behaviors.
#30 Discuss the advice that was given to your parents about stuttering, and the advice you wish had been given to them.
#31 Discuss the kind of person you would be if you did not stutter.
#32 Have each person make a list of their most difficult words and then make up a story with them in it. Make it fun.
#33 Design a stuttering therapy course. Break up into small groups and have each group come up with a plan for a three week course.
#34 Break up into pairs (dyads). Have each person pretend the other person is their “stuttering.” Talk to it.
#35 Discuss what advantages your stuttering has given you.
#36 Discuss the best ways to react to someone who behaves inappropriately with you– fills in word, looks away from you, etc.
#37 What are the best times and ways to advertise your stuttering?
#38 Discuss the question, “If you could change one thing about your stuttering, what would it be?”
#39 Repeating Questions. Select an open-ended question about stuttering or some other aspect of life (for example, “Tell me a thing you like/don’t like about your stuttering” or “Tell me a way you try to please people.”) Break up into pairs (dyads) and have one person ask the question of the other for a period of 5 or 10 minutes, being careful not to nod or indicate approval or disapproval of the response. After each response, the asker should say “Thank You” before asking the question again. When the period is up, have the other person be the questioner. After the question-answer period, regroup and talk about what you found out. (Denver)
#40 Pictionary – Get two easels and some drawing pads and play with the whole group.
#41 Balderdash – This is a game sometimes called “Fictionary” where you make up definitions of obscure words in order to fool the other players. It a fun speaking exercise. (Sacramento)
#42 Trivial Pursuit – You all know this board game. You might decide that the questions must be read in a certain way, using prolongation, voluntary stuttering, etc. (St. Louis)
#43 Scruples – Rather than play the game as instructed, just have the facilitator ask the questions at random. (Salt Lake City)
#44 Have a local yoga expert or some one involved in stress management speak.
#45 Have one member who has a particular interest or hobby make a presentation about that to the group.
#46 Have one or more local speech-language pathologists come. Invite one from the schools to tell you about his or her work.
#47 Members can contract (pledge) to do something between meetings.
#48 Members can contract to do something at the meeting, like try to maintain eye contact while they speak, stutter more openly, stutter in a different way, use a fluency-enhancing technique, avoid using a fluency-enhancing technique, speak more or less than usual, etc.
#49 Therapies – Have one member research one particular therapy and report on it to the group.
#50 Outside Presentations: Put together a panel of your members and volunteer to present a program at the local university or in front of community groups (Lions Clubs, Rotary, etc)
#51 The Telephone Call
Place chairs back to back in the middle of the room. Have one telephone at each chair. You can think of variations of the following plot or make up your own.
Plot: The caller is a person who stutters when complaining or inquiring about something. The “callee” is rude, has little patience, and interrupts the person who stutters.
Examples: Calling an auto mechanic about work done on a car. / Calling a fancy resort to inquire about prices. / A man calling up a woman for a date. (Salt Lake City)
#52 Job Interviews
Take turns role-playing various job interview scenarios. These can be serious or funny. Perhaps some member is going through these in real life and needs some good feedback. (Salt Lake City)
#53 The Picture Party
Each member is asked to bring in photographs of their parents, children, spouses, pets, etc. This can be used as a warm-up exercise to be done while snacks are offered, or at a social gathering of the chapter, or during the speaking portion of the meeting as a sort of personal “Show and Tell” exercise. (St. Louis)
#54 Stuttering Metaphors
Take time and come up with as many different ways to describe stuttering as you can. “Wrestling with speech,” Coming up against blocks,” “Feeling stuck,” “tongue-tied”, etc., (Sacramento)
#55 Have members share their most embarrassing moment (outside of their stuttering).
#56 Have members describe the worst year or day of their life.
#57 Have members describe the best year or day of their life.
#58 Go out to a local baseball game (Dallas). Do it as an official group and get your chapter name projected on the scoreboard.
#59 Go Bowling together.
#60 Go see an enjoyable film together.
#61 Have a fund raising event such as a Garage or Yard Sale. (Orange County)
#62 Develop a lending library.
#63 Have a summer picnic. Be sure to involve everyone in making arrangements and bringing things.
#64 Run in a race. Have members who run enter a local race. The rest of the group can join them as support and for a pot-luck picnic afterwards. The group could identify themselves as being with the NSA by wearing shirts or they could bring a banner. (Sacramento)
#65 Go on a long hike.
#66 Volunteer your Chapter to answer the phones for a local PBS radio or television station. This would be great publicity and a great “stretch” for members. (Sacramento)
#67 Visit a local museum together.
#68 Volunteer to do some civic work. (Distribute meals on Thanksgiving for the Salvation Army.)
#69 “Take it From Here”
This is an impromptu storytelling exercise in which members are encouraged to use their imagination, ingenuity and “tall story” expertise. A member is asked by the Facilitator to get the ball rolling by beginning to relate an experience he claims to have had. For example: “Last weekend I was walking in the woods when I came across the most unusual creature I had ever seen. It had four antennas and a fan tail that enabled it to take off and land in twenty-foot glides. I stopped. . .” At this point the Facilitator stops the yarn-spinner and asks members to the left or right to continue the narrative in any way shape or form they choose. Each person continues their part of the story as long as they want to before leaving it for the next person to take up where they left off. People are encouraged to let their imaginations soar.
This process can also be started by reading the beginning of a story from a book; a mystery story or children’s story would suffice. You can also let the next storyteller be chosen at random by the previous speaker or the facilitator (And then what happened… Harry.) (Bayside, New York)
Topics are chosen ahead of time. Members take each side of the debate. Debate rules can be modified to fit the time allowed and number of participants. A time-keeper is needed. Topics can be humorous or serious. (Salt Lake City)
#71 “Best Excuse of the Week”
This is a short exercise which can be used as a warm-up or at the very end of the meeting. Have members explain why, for example, their stuttering is so bad this week. (“Because the Cardinals are not playing too well”) Have a small award for the best one. (Sacramento)
#72 “Zany Questions”
Make a list of ridiculous or intriguing questions that members have to pick from a hat and answer spontaneously. (Example: Would you be willing to eat a bowl of live crickets for $40,000? If your home caught fire and you had time to save one item (or three items or five items), what would you save? (Sacramento)
#73 “The Small Household Object”
Put a collection of small household objects in a bag and have members take turns drawing one out. They can either give a talk on its usefulness or make up an outlandish story about it. (Central Massachusetts)
#74 “Table Topics”
The purpose of Table Topics is to have members “think on their feet” and speak for a minute or so. The Facilitator prepares and issues the topics. Originality is desired in the topics. Each member may be given an individual subject or a choice of subjects may be presented from which he or she can draw at random.
Example: It has been proposed to build a Brooklyn Sports Complex on Coney Island. The organizers want to house a minor league baseball team. Would you support this with your tax dollars? (Bayside, New York Chapter)
This exercise lets the person who stutters do something we are all good at–whispering!
A quote from a classic book or a belief about stuttering or some other statement is written down and then whispered to one person. That person in turn whispers what they remember to the next person. When the last person has gotten the message, they tell the entire group the message and it is compared to the original one. Variations can be done by asking each person to “bounce” on the fist sound of every word or use some other technique. Try this with the speaker (whisperer) standing up so they have to deal with a little of the “spotlight”. (Phoenix)
#76 “Coffee Pot”
This is a word-guessing game in which a member is asked to think of some activity a person does, in a verbal form, i.e. fishing, golfing, driving, kite-flying, etc. The rest of the members try to find out what the person is thinking of by asking questions in turn and substituting “coffee pot” for the activity in question. The questions can only be answered yes or no.
Example of questions: “Can you coffee pot indoors?” “Do you hold something in your hand when you coffee pot?”
The person in the group who guesses correctly gets to think up a new word. (Bayside, New York Chapter)
#77 Three Words Only: Put people in triads (groups of three.) Have each group stand up and talk using only three words at a time. What they say does not have to make sense or be logical:
Example: How are you? My dog’s sick. I love bowling. / What’s a high score? / That’s four words. In which way? Not in Russia. Be crazy and keep it lively. (San Francisco)
#78 Perform a scene from a play.
#79 Have a debate.
#80 Put together a news broadcast and have people take turns being anchorpersons or reporters.
#81-90 – Use John Harrison’s book, How to Conquer Your Fears of Speaking Before People. This has ten lessons in it, but each one can be taken individually.
#91 Have members bring to the meeting a very meaningful or humorous passage fromanovelorplayorpoemthattheyreallylike. Taketumsreadingtheseoutloud. (E. Washington – N. Idaho / Spokane)
#92 Bring in some children’s books to be read from. Dr. Seuss is great for this.
Using a video camera. If you can get a hold of a video camera, use it at the meeting!
“Oh, would some power the gift give us to see ourselves as others see us,” said Robert Burns. Well, what wasn’t true in the 19th Century is true today. Using a video camera at meetings can dramatically affect members in a very positive way. What seems to be true is we are often too hard on ourselves. Seeing ourselves on tape can be a much needed reality test which gives it a greater sense of risk and freedom.
Play around with the video first. Maybe film some very short exercise or warmup exercise and then play the tape back so members have some inunediate feedback. After they are used to it, the camera can be used in many ways. Some examples are:
#93 Videotape members giving speeches of any kind and then save plenty of time to play it back at the meeting. See the Speaking Circles page for more information and ideas about this.
#94 Videotape an entire meeting to have as a record or for use in presentations your chapter might make.
#95 Pretend you are making a five-minute public service announcement on the NSA. Create, write and produce it as a group.
You want to of course be sensitive to people who might not be willing to do this but you will find that 90% of the people will be willing to. Members will want to do this again and again.
#96 Show selections from an NSA convention video. This makes for a great meeting.
#97 Show Voice in Exile (Ask NSA office how to obtain a copy)
This is a 28 minute film of a very dramatic week in the life of a 17 year old who stutters. You will never forget seeing it for the first time.
#98 Show either of these Alan Holzman films about the work of Joseph Sheehan: Message to a Stutterer or No Words to Say (Get from NSA office.)
Here are some movies which you can show at a meeting. Making popcorn to be shared by members is mandatory.
#99 Mask – Cher stars in this very moving story of a boy with a congenital disease which gives him a very deformed look. Cher is the boy’s mother who has instilled in him the strength to cope with it. There is much for people who stutter to learn from this movie.
#100 Roxanne – Steve Martin plays a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, and how he deals with his “deformity” is a lesson for us all.
#101 A Fish Called Wanda – This will lead to a wild discussion later.
#102 My Left Foot – Like Mask, this movie has a lot to say to people who stutter.
#103 Order the two great Canadian documentaries made in 1992:
Voices to Remember – The Adults and Speaking of Courage – The Children
You can order these EXCELLENT films (for “Home Use” for only) for 39.95 each from SunCoast Media, Inc. 2938 West Bay Drive, Suite #B, Bellair Bluffs, FL 34640 (800-899-1008). If you only order one, order Voices because it is more pertinent to our members. These are GREAT films!
#104 Any inspirational film of your choice.