Toastmasters: Your Role As An Ah Counter, with Script

As an Ah Counter, your role is to count and to record the number of unnecessary sound (including repetitive words) that the speaker uttered in her/his speech. Effective speakers usually made much less to nil unnecessary sound when speaking and therefore, their message are loud and clear to their audiences. In Toastmasters meeting, we want to help speakers to improve their unintentional utter of sounds/words and here’s your step-by-step guide on how to perform your role as an Ah Counter and your script.

1) Pen and Paper OR
2) Apps (iPhone, Android)

STEP 1: Introduce Your Role
The host, Toastmasters of the Evening (TME) will introduce you to the stage at the beginning of the meeting. You wil need to explain your role to the audience and your script could looks like this:

My role as the Ah Counter is to count the number of unnecessary sound or repetitive words you used when you are speaking on the stage. For example “Er“, “Em“, “Ah“, “You Know“, “I Mean” will be counted in my report. These are fillers that would affect your effectiveness in delivering your speech. At the end of the meeting I will present my report to you.

Back to you Toastmasters of the Evening.

STEP 2: Count
When speakers speaking on the stage, pay attention to the number of unnecessary sound and repetitive words they uttered. Usually, by performing your role as an Ah Counter, you would be drawn away from the context of the speech and unable to tell what the speaker was talking about. Don’t worry, because what you would learnt eventually is the surprise that how many unnecessary sound people made in their speeches. You will gain clarity on how you would deal with unnecessary sounds – usually unintentional and during mind botteling moments that you need to think what you want to say (e.g. Table Topics when you need to think on your feet).

Mark the total number of unnecessary sound (e.g. “Er“, “Em“, “Ah“, “You Know“, “I Mean“) a speaker made during their speech. Optionally, you might want to jot down if any speaker had habits in making a particular unnecessary sound. For example in my case, I say alot of “You Know” and if you could point this out during your report, it would be particularly helpful for the speaker to realise and take note of that.

You will need to jot down the total number of unnecessary sound for the following speakers:

  1. Toastmasters of the Evening (TME)
  2. Timer (Role Introduction + Report)
  3. Language Evaluator/Grammarian (Role Introduction + Word of the Day + Report)
  4. Joke Master
  5. Table Topics Master
  6. Table Topics Speakers
  7. Prepared Speech Speakers
  8. Table Topics Evaluator
  9. Prepared Speech Evaluators
  10. General Evaluators

STEP 3: Reporting
At the end of the meeting, usually after the evaluations for speeches, you will be introduced back on the stage again to give your Ah Counter report. You will need to report the total number of unnecessary sound a speaker made and might need to point out one or two unnecessary sound that a speaker very habituated in using it. Your script could look like:

Fellow Toastmasters, friends and guest, here’s my report for Ah Counting. David: 5. Betty: 2. Royce: 10 and I observed that you use a lot of “You know”, better be aware of it. Lawrence: 3. Samantha: 0, good job! …

That’s all from my report. Back to you Toastmasters of the Evening.

Here’s a clip on how the role Ah Counter handled in an actual Toastmasters meeting. Notice that there are two variations and as the Ah Counter role is rather straight forward without much comments needed to be made, it’s preferable to keep your reporting short, brief and precise.

After the meeting, don’t forget to look for your CL Manager or Vice President of Education (VPE) to give evaluations to earn your points towards your Comptent Leader Award.

Together with Competent Communicator (CC), Competent Leader (CL), are sets of 10 projects related to meeting roles and leadership duties in achieving the Competent Leader Award. You received both CC and CL manual when you first joined a club and they are tracks in leading you to becoming the Distinguish Toastmasters (DTM). You can find more information about the CC and CL education here.

While the role of Ah Counter is rather straight forward, there are two variations that clubs used that I find rather neatly integrated into their meeting and Toastmasters experiences that are interesting enough to share.

1) Small Fees for Ahs: Used by the Vienna Toastmasters Club (Austria), every unnecessary sound will be charged for a fee (€0.10 or US$0.1 or £0.08 or HK$1.0) up to 10 Ahs for flat rate to the club. This is a good way in putting the number of Ahs into context in reminding the speaker how many unnecessary sound they made while a the collected money, is used for buying beverages for everyone in celebrating the last meeting of the year.

2) Charting the Ahs: Used by the MDC Toastmasters Club (Hong Kong), the Ahs of each speaker said were charted on the white board and by the time the Ah Counter is on the stage, s/he reads the report and everyone have a good laugh on how might one speaker used a particular unnecessary sound/word off the chart. Say, Royce why you use “You Know” so often that it’s everyone’s unnecessary sound combined?

In the picture is our member, Toastmasters Betty Li.

Royce is the award winning, past Governor of Area H2 (District 89) and past President of the MDC Toastmasters Club (9194). He started his Toastmasters journey with the Vienna Toastmasters Club (551), Austria in 2007 and enjoys public speaking ever since. He places great emphasis on meeting experiences and members development for speech deliveries. He applies his public speaking skills in his work for wildlife conservations and makes killer presentation slides to convey his ideas. He has been accredited as a Competent Communicator (CC) and has accomplished the level of Advanced Leadership Bronze (ALB) titles. You can find more information in his blog.

By Royce To