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Success Stories

The following are real-life stories from McGuire graduates on how their
membership of the Programme has been life-changing for them.

No longer are they avoiding speaking situations but rather are saying what they want, to whom they want and when they want.


Hi all,

I just wanted to share an experience that I hope encourages others.

During the last six months I have had the pleasure of coaching an U13 soccer team in the Queensland Christian Soccer Association competition. The team didn't have a coach after the sign on, and I was very reluctant to take it on. However it came to the choice of either me take it on or having to go any tell two of my sons that they can't play soccer this year because I was too scared to take on the role. So, with huge misgivings about my own ability (I had never coached any team before) I decided to try it out. I have rarely watched a game of soccer, and only played two seasons of 6-a-side soccer in my life. Not a great resume!

Anyway, having a boost in speaking confidence by going on the Sydney McGuire course helped immeasurably, and then the season started. so many times I felt completely out of my depth, this was not just a case of having to speak, this was a case of building up each individual player, helping them learn knew skills that I only found out about through the wonders of Google and Youtube the week before, and also battle my own self doubts and fears as each training session and game approached.

I remember that a couple of months ago Geoff Johnston sent me an article by Scott Monson called " A Tale of Two Fears - From Panic to Excitement" and this really helped me in how I approached the sessions. It wasn't easy, but gradually the panic fear became more like an exciting fear. It still required a conscious choice and decision on my part, sometimes even as I was driving to the game or the training session.

Anyway, in terms of the season it was a success in two ways. First we went through the season undefeated, and were able to win the Grand Final. But the greater success was the way that the team was able to blend together as a team, the way that individuals in the team seemed to grow in confidence each game, the encouragement of the parents and how one boy joined the club mid season because of issues with his other club, and his Dad thanked me later for giving his son back his heart for soccer. Another guy, who I made it my aim to get him to smile during the season (he did!), came up to me at the end of the season and asked if I was going to coach next season (I now hope to), and then said he would be coming back. Priceless.

I could go on, but I've just come back from the final breakup, and I was able to give a speech expressing my thanks to the parents and the kids, and noting how much a privilege it has been to coach during the year. It felt great being able to do that. Incredible actually. I had been very fearful (panic fear) leading up to it, and didn't need to give a speech, but in the end my desire to express my thanks overcame my fear of speaking.

So, I just wanted to share this with you. there are so many opportunities out there to make a positive impact on others, and previously I have been so caught up in the fact that I stutter that I haven't realised how many others are hurting, how many others need genuine role models in their lives.

And I also realised, I need to want to speak eloquently if I am going to continue to make progress. It is too easy having a victim mentality, to hide behind the barrier of our stutter and use it as an excuse. This coaching experience has been a good step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading.

Fear of words, Fear of Life

By Kane Brickell (NZ)

From the moment I could open my mouth, I realized I was different from all the other kids, was I normal? I never thought I was.   How does one cope with the inability to say the most simple sentence, or for most part the simplest word? I begun to learn from a young age that the only way I could feel normal was to not say a word, avoid social situations, or pretend that I did not know something, basically hiding from life… all out of fear of my stutter, my own voice.

It really began when starting in primary school, introducing myself to the other kids on the first day… unable to say my own name, naturally children at that age only had one way of responding to this, all they could do was laugh and make a mockery of my stutter, I guess you would think that in time my speech would improve or the other kids would stop giving me a hard time, well you would be wrong. My stutter became worse and so did the insults, not only this but the embarrassment and anxiety I felt when speaking with family members became just another part of life, it still saddens me that I felt that way as I feel everyone should be able to speak to their family without fear of themselves. But I began to learn that that was how it was going to be, I had to learn to adapt, it is how humans survive in society is it not? I did not have a choice. But I managed to find positives among all the teasing, mockery, anxiety and all the other negative emotions I experienced; I learnt quickly which people were worth my time and those who were not, I thought that was pretty cool at least.

The next significant phase in my story started when I began college at age 13, it was almost as though primary school repeated all over again, guess I was wrong to hope for a fresh start. Again the first day began with mockery and insults as I struggled to find acceptance among peers and found it increasingly hard to make friends throughout my remaining years. It would not take a genius to work out my most hated time of year was when it was time for class speeches, I would sweat on it for months leading up to them as I knew I would be a shambles. Specifically I remember one year when I was meant to do a four minute speech, I knew I would not get my words out properly, so I timed my speech at home, just over three minutes long… saying the exact same speech in a class with people laughing at me, four and a half minutes long, when I was finished I remember Icould not stop shaking until the next day.

  I would always think that people would instantly judge me because of my stutter… It took me nearly 18 years to realize that perhaps all this time I was expecting people to judge me and that perhaps I was already pre-empting judgement on them which I felt terrible for. I put this down to the side effects of the strategies I had in place to try and counter my own inability to speak fluently. The lengths I went to just to be able to form a sentence in the search of acceptance were ridiculous when I look back on it. I changed the pronunciation of words just to make them easier to say, I even pronounced my surname differently from my family just so I did not screw up my words. To this day I am even still reluctant to go to McDonalds as I could never pronounce the burger names without stuttering, I always used to tell people I preferred Burger King, but really, it was just easier for me as their combo's were numbered, but at least for the time I spoke into the drive-thru speaker, I felt normal. The smallest things for me were constant nightmares, constant fear of the silliest things such as answering a telephone as I did not want to embarrass myself in front of anyone, let alone over a phone, so how did I deal with it? Simple, I avoided it, let it ring and pretend I was not home. Although these small things helped me hide it, deep inside I remained to feel useless, a waste of space, I felt like nothing.

These feelingswould continue growing on me after graduation as I finally felt like I couldconstantly hide myself from the world. Did I want to go to university? No, Iwould have to talk to people; neither did I want to find a job, only if itinvolved me not speaking to anybody, bottom line, I felt it would be better forme to never speak. Even some days I felt it would make my life easier if I couldcarry round a pen and paper so I could talk to people that way instead, all tohide all the physiological and psychological effects it had on me… yet all Iwanted to do was speak.

I spent the years after college in jobs Ihated, jobs I hated so much I felt I needed to drink every night to mask howeverything made me feel inside, I was heading in the wrong direction and neededto find a way to get out of the mess I created of myself. Finally, nearing my21 st birthday, I was given the opportunity to attend a 5 day coursein Sydney, Australia for people who stutter. This course altered everythingabout me and has made a significant impact on my life; this course was theMcGuire Programme.

Day one, scared,heart racing, sweating, butterflies in my stomach I struggled to say more thana few words at a time in front of a camera as I was determined to mask mystutter, soon however I was exposed for who I truly was and a whole new journeybegan, a journey to start a new life, but to me, it was a chance to finallylive my only dream in life – the ability to speak without fear, to say what Iwant to say, exactly how I want to say it. I am forever grateful to theprogramme, for what it has done for me and the number of extraordinary,inspirational people I met in my time in Sydney.

In the 2 yearssince my time in Sydney, I have done things I would not even dare to dream ofdoing. After returning home, I wanted to prove a point to myself, I daredmyself to do something that scared the hell out of me, so I became a door todoor salesman, speaking with large numbers of people every day.   Never have I experienced anything quite likeit, for the first time in 20 years I was not afraid to speak, I felt as thoughfor the first time I could show people a side of me that only I knew existed.Unfortunately it did not work out and after a month I walked away from the jobin search of something else; I applied for jobs without much luck. But that didnot stop me, how could it? I had a taste of a life that I could only dream ofas a kid, so I applied for university and thankfully got accepted.

I beganuniversity mid way through 2010, enrolling in a bachelor of sports degree, majoringin coaching. It is awesome now to be able to laugh at the person I was beforeSydney, from wanting to talk to people with a pen and paper to coachingpractical sessions in front of assessors, coaching a football team of my own,making a presentation for the first time without making a mistake, being a partof something where I have the ability to impact on people's lives, whereasbefore I let everybody impact my own.

I am now halfwaytowards completing my degree and when I finish will hopefully find a job thatallows me to make a positive impact on other people's lives through sport. I amthankful for everything that has happened to me and everyone who has had aninfluence on my life as I can now see the way forward. More importantlyhowever, for whoever reads this, I will leave you with a question to thinkabout and hope that it will inspire others to aim higher and to chase theirdreams as well… My question is simple, who says it can't be done?

Power Of the Spoken Word

Jun 06, 2009

Three years ago Ian Stevens would not have even entertained the idea of coming into the station to be interviewed on radio. Ian had stuttered ever since he learnt to speak.

For more than 40 years Ian's life was completely controlled by his stuttering problem through embarrassments including the inability to ask for anything other than Coke at a bar or not using the Drive-Thru at McDonald's.

Ian's life revolved around fear. He feared going to the station on Monday to buy a train ticket, he would not go to a gym, and even refused to make a speech at his son's 18th birthday.

It was not until one night in 2006 when Ian and his wife Jane attended a SIDS ball that the stutter became a problem.

Ian realised that his stutter was embarrassing Jane and was holding him back from enjoying life.

After hours of searching online for something that might help Ian's speaking problem, Jane found the McGuire Programme and they signed Ian up straight away.

The McGuire Programme teaches its students to be more assertive and confident with their speaking, and forces them into situations they would never have done before the program.

Through these teaching methods, students must face their biggest fears and learn to control those fears to overcome them. One example is on day three of the course, Ian made a speech in the middle of Queen St Mall.

Before the program Ian suffered from high blood pressure, low self-esteem at work and in social situations. After completing the program, Ian's blood pressure was at a normal level and has maintained that level ever since.

As a sought after senior project controls engineer, Ian now has the confidence and ability to get any job he desires and is in a position to demand his own salary.

"I used to go to job interviews just for the sake of going to practice my speaking and within 12 months, I doubled my salary", he said.

The program is run by former stutterers and now Ian has joined the teaching staff through his desire to help other people in his situation.

If you have a stuttering problem or know someone who does, you can contact the McGuire Programme by visiting the website at