Ah Counter

Last Revised: December 27, 2002

Arrive early and locate the bell which you will use (see below).

Early in the meeting, at the Toastmaster’s request, you concisely describe your duties. You have sixty seconds maximum. You are encouraged to be brief, or you will eat into time reserved for Table Topics.

During the meeting, you listen carefully to all speakers from the time the President calls it to order until he/she adjourns. Whenever a speaker uses ah’s, other “filler” words, “Xerox” words, silence (when not well used), or verbal stumbles, you signal the infraction by ringing the bell and recording the member’s name in your notes, where you keep a running tally. Xerox words are any words which are unnecessarily repeated. In addition to ah, common filler words are uh, uhm, and er. Many other expressions, when poorly used, are also filler words and should be noted as infractions, e.g., “well”, “you know”, “and so”, etc.

A few exceptions to these guidelines exist. When a guest speaks you do not ring the bell or record any infractions. When a member makes a formal speech, you do not ring the bell, but you do record any infractions in your notes.

Note: Except as noted above, the Ah-Counter rings the bell whenever someone commits an infraction. This is not an intrusion; it is part of your job. Therefore, please do it.

Near the conclusion of the meeting, at the Toastmaster’s request, you report all infractions, citing each member and the number of infractions by him/her to a maximum of five infractions. You advise members that they must pay a fine of five cents per infraction if he/she is in the beginner’s manual, or ten cents per infraction if he/she is in an advanced manual. No need exists to report those members who had zero infractions.

If a member commits more than five infractions, report that they committed the maximum. For example, if Joe Smith has committed nineteen infractions (which can happen), avoid embarrassing him by reporting, “Joe Smith, nineteen infractions!” Instead, say, “Joe Smith, maximum infractions.”