While I benefitted from speech therapy, the single best treatment for me was public speaking. Consider perhaps doing conferences or what have you -- speaking for 45 minutes straight on a topic near and dear to you in a mildly stressful environment is good preparation for speaking for 45 minutes straight on a topic near and dear to you in a mildly stressful environment.
There's another option which you can avail yourself of, which is "I am a technologist in the best market in history for technologists. I have a stutter. Deal with it."
I'm glad this topic is being discussed.
Even though I am relatively young (I turn 18 next week), can code and sell, I've always had a fear that my speech would prevent me from being a "real entrepreneur" (whatever that means), so it's good to see examples of people not letting their speech problems hinder their success.
You have an advantage here -- you can hire such a person as a professional CEO, not a co-founder, and you'll be able to find someone very good if you've got a company already making revenues. Get a lawyer to structure a deal that lets you retain 100% control of everything, and give the new person a 5% equity grant with four-year-vesting and a one-year cliff. Then you decide whether they get to stay, they report to you but can go out and raise money for you, and you get a valuable partner to help you run your business. Over time, if they prove to be an ever-increasingly important partner, you can grant them more stock options.
I can imagine that speaking to investors would be a major problem. Not so much that anyone would can about your stutter or stammer, but more about the frustration with yourself that you can't properly communicate your idea. You always find yourself having to compromise on what it is you're trying to bring across.
Unfortunately I have no tips or suggestions since I haven't been able to find any myself.
> You always find yourself having to compromise on what it is you're trying to bring across.
This is so true, always that feeling like I had more to say, but feared stuttering so I kept the conversation short and lacking details.
Sometimes I substitute simple words for more complex synonyms simply because it's easier for me to say.
So I have the following too problems
1. Conversations are never very smooth since I often have to ask the other person to repeat what they said.
2. My speech is not as legible as a non-hearing persons speech, but understandable for most part. No stutter though.
I don't think you have any solution apart from acceptance (which would help with the stress levels I guess). Accept your limitations, find someone do sales for you and in investor meetings, if there is a question that you couldn't answer very well due to the stutter, send a followup email to an investor explaining it.
Apart from that, do your best, don't measure up yourself to others and try your best to avoid replaying affected conversations after they are done.
In terms of concrete advice, this is what I would do:
Avoid any slide deck with written content you want to repeat verbatim. For me, there's often certain words I stumble over, that have synonyms that I don't, so I'd prefer to be able to paraphrase as I go, without it being so obvious that I'm substituting in a different word or phrase.
If, like me, it helps when someone else says the word you're stumbling over, perhaps take someone aside before the meeting, explain the situation, and ask them to prompt you with that word. That would probably also help by creating a shared bond.
Be comfortable with, when you start stuttering, being able to say "sorry, but sometimes I have a speech impediment, bear with me here." I've had that happen before on phone screens, and it's never seemed to be an issue.
Feel free to email me (in profile) if you want to talk more.
If you are interested in talking to someone else with a speech impediment, reply to this and I can link you up.
I think you can be fairly confident, though, that 99.99% of people you would ever care to work with could not possibly care less that you have a stutter and will be more than patient. Often, the stress of trying to speak and not being able to get the words out can start a vicious cycle. You can almost guarantee that they are more than happy to hear what you have to say and won't pay any attention to any speech impediment.
2. Investor relationships can be like marriages. If a prospective investor focuses in on something that is absolutely meaningless in the overall scheme of things, consider it a reverse filter that enables you to avoid jumping into bed with somebody you'd probably want to divorce in a year anyway.
3. As for customer interaction, there are people who love to sell and people who don't. Most people don't. If this isn't what you want to be doing anyway, it sounds like you're at or approaching the stage where you have enough validation to bring on somebody who can take on the sales role.
* Speaking in an accent. It doesn't have to be a good accent or super overt, just anything to change your voice. I've found focusing on pulling off the accent forces you to concentrate on you speech more and you end up stuttering less. Possibly a good jumping off point would be audiobooks of accent lessons (such as Received or Standard Pronunciation) for actors.
* Swaping out words you get stuck on. Like how Porky Pig's trademark is "That's all folks!" (since he can't get through saying "The End"), you can substitute words and phrases when you find yourself stuck on something.
* Memorizing, word for word, your presentation. Whenever I have to give a presentation, I'll write down everything that I'm going to say and memorize it like a script (as compared to presenting from an outline). Don't know why this works for me, but it does.
edit: Really? Downvoting? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of it helping people with stuttering.
I don't recommend getting a partner solely to be the face of your company if your only concern is your speech. I recommend The McGuire Program. It is a 3 day intensive course that really helped me. It's not a silver bullet but in the end you will be comfortable speaking in high stress public speaking situations. I'm going to be attending their course in DC this year. Feel free to msg me if you have any questions.
I've found the only thing I can do is slow my speech down a lot. I have a tendency to talk way too fast and I end up tripping over my words—it feels like I'm falling forwards. I panic and then try to talk even faster just to get to the end of my thought.
When I slow down and speak very deliberately, I've found I can do quite well and even enjoy public speaking. I just have to avoid that mid-sentence anxiety attack.
This is an aside, but just to let you know you're not alone. :)
In fact I remember them.. they stood out to me.
My boss at a big telecom co (CEO) had a terrible tick, and talked very slowly. I noticed that I listened to him more intently.
He used to call his "tick" and his Bugatti his sex appeal.... but thats a story for another time..
I had a friend in high school who had some minor tics. Funnily enough, he also talked rather slowly and deliberately.
And know that if an investor turns you down for this, he is probably not really worth working with anyways. Good luck.
In my case I when I go without verbal communication for a while (like doing long days & nights of computer science),
my enunciation is compromised during the first few live conversations after that.
When I know an important phone call or personal appearance needs to be accomplished,
I will prepare by "warming up". For me, it helps to play some familiar vocal music and sing
along distinctly and loudly as a practice session. It warms up the voice for better quality
and gets the brain into more of the presentational flow that I know I am capable of.
It always helps the confidence and that flow is more easily carried into remaining conversations
for the rest of the day, once the brain has had some preliminary guidance along the path under
non-challenging conditions to begin with.
I might imagine you can probably sing along with the radio or your favorite CD without stuttering.
Or maybe read aloud from a familiar book or document. These can help.
It may be worthwhile to recite something that has been memorized, it's not essential,
but give it a try too.
With pop music or the printed word you do often end up uttering things that will not be part of
your regular vocabulary, and that is good.
When you are talking to people later on, your conversation actually becomes less of a stretch than the
practice session was, which makes it easier.
When I talk about my life's work, I know it's important and sometimes there is a lot at stake,
but I don't want to rehearse what I am actually going to say or it may be too "canned",
instead I just rehearse some vocals to get in shape, then wing it from there.
It's my life's work, and I do have more answers than anybody else on the subject.
Still I do look forward to having a representative and/or spokesperson once I get to be a CEO again.
A highly technical person needs this more than a regular technical person, if nothing else so I
can concentrate more on creating the science that no one else is doing.
I've already got a few anxious associates who would love for me to get funded so they can come on board.
It might be a good idea to start "recruiting" a strong spokesperson yourself, especially a close friend
who might make a good partner or associate later when you can afford to bring them on.
Until then it would be great to practice 1:1 with them when you can, concentrating on smoothness
of conversation yourself while letting them casually learn more about your life's work as you go along.
That way if you don't end up landing an investor on your own before too long, you will might be able to
have your "assistant" accompany you to a meeting or two and see how that goes.
hoppe this helps,