Thinking of coming to STAMMAFest Global this year? Never been to a stammering-based conference before? Not sure what to expect and a little nervous? Read on, and I hope you will soon be booking your ticket to Liverpool!
I worried for weeks before my first conference back in 2006
What would it be like? How would I be able to introduce myself? How many people would be there? Would anyone speak to me? What would I say if they did?
All valid questions for a person who stammers and has never been around a group of other stammerers. I need not have worried, the moment I walked in I was greeted by a very friendly person behind the registration desk who stammered! Like me, they prolonged and blocked, but they maintained eye contact and listened to me as I said my name. Asked me about my journey, where I was from, told me what was coming up over the weekend, all things fluent speakers do without thinking… and so began one of the best weekends. And this is what every conference I have been to has been like. Warm, welcoming, fun and above all… stammery!
From the moment you arrive at the University of Liverpool, you will be amongst friends, part of a tribe… Your Tribe. I’m not saying everyone you meet will stammer, but those fluent people attending will be there because they support the stammering movement - they are on our team. You will meet people with different stammering styles to your own, just as beautiful, just as unique, just another voice in the noisy, laughter-filled conference venue.
There are workshops about too many subjects to list here, daily sessions that everyone attends, breakout rooms, quiet corners, and outdoor areas to enjoy the sunshine (hopefully). There will be a quiz, bar, great food, accommodation, a wonderful Saturday evening event with a live band. If you have been conversing with others online, you might even be able to meet up with them in person. If not, there are plenty of new people to meet. Trust me when I say you’ll probably make lifelong friends from around the world!
My personal favourites are the open mic sessions where you can if you wish, stand up in front of an audience and speak to the group, something I was always petrified of doing. After my first open mic I felt on top of the world, like I could conquer anything, invincible and unstoppable, and this I hope is how you will feel too if you choose to challenge yourself just a little. If you fancy a go but are nervous, seek me out, we can stand up there together and speak out loud and proud!
No one, and I mean no one will judge you. Everyone, old friends and new, will be made welcome from the moment you step in the door.
See you in Liverpool!