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  • I didn't know when I agreed to do this

  • whether I was expected to talk or to sing.

  • But when I was told that the topic was language,

  • I felt that I had to speak about something for a moment.

  • I have a problem.

  • It's not the worst thing in the world.

  • I'm fine.

  • I'm not on fire.

  • I know that other people in the world

  • have far worse things to deal with,

  • but for me, language and music are

  • inextricably linked through this one thing.

  • And the thing is that I have a stutter.

  • It might seem curious given that I spend

  • a lot of my life on the stage.

  • One would assume that I'm comfortable

  • in the public sphere and comfortable here,

  • speaking to you guys.

  • But the truth is that I've spent my life up until this point

  • and including this point, living in mortal dread

  • of public speaking.

  • Public singing, whole different thing. (Laughter)

  • But we'll get to that in a moment.

  • I've never really talked about it before so explicitly.

  • I think that that's because I've always lived in hope

  • that when I was a grown-up,

  • I wouldn't have one.

  • I sort of lived with this idea that when I'm grown,

  • I'll have learned to speak French,

  • and when I'm grown, I'll learn how to manage my money,

  • and when I'm grown, I won't have a stutter,

  • and then I'll be able to public speak and maybe be the prime minister

  • and anything's possible and, you know.

  • (Laughter)

  • So I can talk about it now

  • because I've reached this point, where

  • I mean, I'm 28.

  • I'm pretty sure that I'm grown now.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I'm an adult woman

  • who spends her life as a performer,

  • with a speech impediment.

  • So, I might as well come clean about it.

  • There are some interesting angles to having a stutter.

  • For me, the worst thing that can happen

  • is meeting another stutterer.

  • (Laughter)

  • This happened to me in Hamburg, when

  • this guy, we met and he said,

  • "Hello, m-m-m-my name is Joe,"

  • and I said, "Oh, hello, m-m-m-my name is Meg."

  • Imagine my horror when I realized

  • he thought I was making fun of him.

  • (Laughter)

  • People think I'm drunk all the time.

  • (Laughter)

  • People think that I've forgotten their name

  • when I hesitate before saying it.

  • And it is a very weird thing, because

  • proper nouns are the worst.

  • If I'm going to use the word "Wednesday" in a sentence,

  • and I'm coming up to the word,

  • and I can feel that I'm going to stutter or something,

  • I can change the word to "tomorrow,"

  • or "the day after Tuesday,"

  • or something else.

  • It's clunky, but you can get away with it,

  • because over time I've developed this

  • loophole method of using speech

  • where right at the last minute you

  • change the thing and you trick your brain.

  • But with people's names, you can't change them.

  • (Laughter)

  • When I was singing a lot of jazz,

  • I worked a lot with a pianist whose name was Steve.

  • As you can probably gather,

  • S's and T's, together or independently,

  • are my kryptonite.

  • But I would have to introduce the band

  • over this rolling vamp,

  • and when I got around to Steve,

  • I'd often find myself stuck on the "St."

  • And it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable and it totally kills the vibe.

  • So after a few instances of this,

  • Steve happily became "Seve,"

  • and we got through it that way. (Laughter)

  • I've had a lot of therapy,

  • and a common form of treatment is to use

  • this technique that's called smooth speech,

  • which is where you almost sing everything that you say.

  • You kind of join everything together in this

  • very singsong, kindergarten teacher way,

  • and it makes you sound very serene, like you've had lots of Valium,

  • and everything is calm. (Laughter)

  • That's not actually me.

  • And I do use that. I do.

  • I use it when I have to be on panel shows,

  • or when I have to do radio interviews,

  • when the economy of airtime is paramount.

  • (Laughter)

  • I get through it that way for my job.

  • But as an artist who feels that their work

  • is based solely on a platform of honesty

  • and being real,

  • that feels often like cheating.

  • Which is why before I sing, I wanted to tell you

  • what singing means to me.

  • It's more than making nice sounds,

  • and it's more than making nice songs.

  • It's more than feeling known, or understood.

  • It's more than making you feel the things that I feel.

  • It's not about mythology,

  • or mythologizing myself to you.

  • Somehow, through some miraculous

  • synaptic function of the human brain,

  • it's impossible to stutter when you sing.

  • And when I was younger, that was a method of treatment

  • that worked very well for me,

  • singing, so I did it a lot.

  • And that's why I'm here today.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • Singing for me is sweet relief.

  • It is the only time when I feel fluent.

  • It is the only time when what comes out of my mouth

  • is comprehensively exactly what I intended.

  • (Laughter)

  • So I know that this is a TED Talk,

  • but now i'm going to TED sing.

  • This is a song that I wrote last year.

  • Thank you very much. Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • (Piano)

  • ♪ I would be a beauty

  • but my nose

  • is slightly too big

  • for my face

  • And I would be a dreamer

  • but my dream

  • is slightly too big

  • for this space

  • And I would be an angel

  • but my halo

  • it pales in the glow

  • of your grace

  • And I would be a joker

  • but that card looks silly when you play

  • your ace

  • ♪ I'd like to know

  • Are there stars in hell? ♪

  • And I'd like to know

  • know if you can tell

  • that you make me lose everything I know

  • That I cannot choose to or not let go

  • And I'd stay forever

  • but my home

  • is slightly too far

  • from this place

  • And I swear I tried to

  • slow it down

  • when I am walking at your pace

  • But all I could think

  • idling through the cities

  • do I look pretty in the rain? ♪

  • And I don't know how someone

  • quite so lovely

  • makes me feel ugly

  • So much shame

  • And I'd like to know

  • Are there stars in hell? ♪

  • And I'd like to know

  • know if you can tell

  • that you make me lose everything I know

  • that I cannot choose to or not let go

  • Thank you very much. (Applause)

I didn't know when I agreed to do this

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【TED】Megan Washington: Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking (Megan Washington: Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking)

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    Zejia Jacob Zhang posted on 2017/06/09
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