From Stuttering to Speaking to Coaching

By Michael Williams

There were times growing up that I could barely speak. It was such a chore that I would feel exhausted and have headaches by the end of the day.

Sometimes I would bite my tongue so hard that it would bleed.

In school, l I wouldn’t raise my hand, even when I knew the answer. I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to do something if it required me to read aloud or speak. Then there were the good times, when I was able to speak rather well for several months. And during those times I tried to speak as much as possible, usually giving unwelcomed advice (my friends hated this). But the stuttering would always come back.

As I got older I learned to slow down and plan my speech. This experience caused me to think more carefully and deeply about what I was going to say, which has turned out to be a great asset today. However, I felt like there was so much more that I could do and achieve, but because of this limitation I held myself back. I always felt like I was carrying a big, heavy, wet blanket around, which covered me and weighed me down. I never knew when I would be fluent and when I would get stuck.

Eventually, I went to college and did okay, got married, and got a job doing something I absolutely hated—talking on the telephone. Coming home after work I remember feeling flat out exhausted from switching words, anticipating words, and working hard not to bite my tongue. I decided that I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. Giving advice and helping others was something I loved to do, so how could I do it as a career?

After spending months contemplating this, I finally felt a clear sensation that whatever I was called to do would require me to speak. Yes, speak in public. Being raised a Christian, I argued with God about this and said, “But I stutter; how can I work in a career that requires me to speak?” I was then reminded of the story of Moses. You see, Moses said the same thing when he was called to build the Ark. God accepted no excuses, and no excuses were accepted in my case either. It was made rather clear to me that if I was ever going to be truly fulfilled and live my potential, I would have to figure out a way to speak well. So, I prayed for healing, I read books, I did everything I could think of, but I still continued to stutter until a friend of mine introduced me to Brian Tracy.

Brian Tracy is a personal and business development guru who has been around for decades. He’s not a speech therapist, but his concepts resonated with me. I came across a teaching on time management and goal setting that really resonated with me, and through it I realized that the stuttering I experienced was not permanent.

Stuttering was a system of beliefs that had been formed many years before and had governed my speech and way of thinking ever since.

The great news was that this system of beliefs could be changed. I began to think I could overwrite that place in my subconscious where my belief system was stored. Armed with this understanding, I set out to create my own time management and goal setting presentations based on his material.

I studied Brian so thoroughly that I could not only present much of his material (with tweaks here and there), but I could model very closely his speaking style as well. After practicing these presentations over and over again and watching and listening to him for hundreds of hours, I developed a brand new speaking style and way of thinking of myself as a presenter. I went out and got myself booked (for free) to speak at local colleges about goal setting and time management. It was amazing. I could present for 30 to 60 minutes without stuttering one time. I was finally on to something.


Now that I could present well, I felt called to go into the ministry. Working with my local church I was licensed and ordained as a Baptist Minister, later leading me to seminary where I received a master’s degree in Divinity. It was during my first year of seminary that I realized that the big, wet blanket had been lifted off me. I felt free. I felt like I could do anything I wanted because I was no longer limited by my speech. Though I still got stuck sometimes, I had so many excellent speaking experiences that I knew, based on the feedback of others, that I was indeed an excellent speaker and great conversationalist.

So, what else could I do? I had always been drawn to Latin culture and my school provided me several opportunities to travel to Latin America and learn Spanish, which expanded my language and speaking capabilities. I found myself working and traveling throughout the United States and Latin America doing presentations and speaking. Later I became a relationship coach, conducting day-long retreats, as well as work as an adjunct professor.

Speaking had now become an asset rather than a liability.

I decided to start an online resource that provided people who struggled with stuttering a systematic way to improve their speech. I struggled with whether or not to show my face due to the fact there were virtually no visible African American leaders in this field. Would my appearance hold me back? Initially I believed that it would or could, but then I started publishing YouTube videos; I received tremendous positive feedback that there was a large need for this information.

I worked to grow my business on the side for three years until the grant position that I had been working under as a relationship coach ended and I was out of a job. Then, a breakthrough happened. One day while really feeling down, a young guy from India contacted me and wanted me to coach him to stop stuttering and improve his confidence. His family flew me to India for a month to work with their son, who made a tremendous transformation during our time together. He was like a brand new person when I left. It was this experience that launched my coaching business and totally changed my life.

I faced my fear of speaking and realized that in life your greatest liability can become your greatest asset.

Today, I am living proof that everything you want to become in life will be a direct result of the mental and physical habits you form.

Michael Williams, M.Div., is the founder of the Start Speaking Training Center, LLC, an online resource designed to help people learn not just how to stop stuttering, but become excellent speakers. He has studied and incorporated accelerated learning strategies, habit development, high performance skill development and neuroplasticity into his personal life, coaching and programs. He has worked in ministry and as a Relationship Coach, so he knows the importance of having excellent communication skills. He has worked with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Canada, United Kingdom, Antigua and Barbadu, Australia, Germany, and the U.S. to improve their speaking skills. Visit

This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at,, and all ebook formats.


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