Helping members off their crutches
The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note any word or sound used as a crutch by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so and you know. Sounds may be ah, um or er. You should also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as “I, I” or “This means, this means.” These words and sounds can be annoying to listeners. The Ah-Counter role is an excellent opportunity to practice your listening skills.
Several days before the meeting, use the information in A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats or in the appendix of the Competent Communication manual to prepare a brief explanation of the duties of the Ah-Counter for the benefit of guests.
When you arrive at the meeting, bring a pen and blank piece of paper for notes, or locate a blank copy of the Ah-Counter’s log, if your club has one, from the sergeant at arms.
The president will call the meeting to order and introduce the Toastmaster who will, in turn, introduce you and the other meeting participants. When you’re introduced, explain the role of the Ah-Counter. Some clubs levy small fines on members who do or do not do certain things. (For example, members are fined who use filler words or are not wearing their Toastmasters pin to the meeting. A fine is usually about five cents, acting more as a friendly reminder than a punishment.) If your club levies fines, explain the fine schedule.
Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone for sounds and long pauses used as fillers and not as a necessary part of sentence structure. Write down how many filler sounds or words each person used during all portions of the meeting.