Ah Counter

Last revised: August 21st, 2019

Be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting beginning. Upon arrive, locate your labeled seat at the head table and verify your ah counter’s bell is at your seat. If available, locate the ah counter’s chart which makes recording infractions much easier and more organized than just using a blank sheet of paper.

Early in the meeting, at the Toastmaster’s request, you concisely describe your duties as you would describe them to a new member or guest who is unfamiliar with your role. You have sixty seconds maximum. Please be brief and limit your time to describing the role and other meeting-theme information the Toastmaster requests.

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 (double 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. “So” has become an increasingly more common filler word and proper usage may not be clear. To ensure you’re marking infractions properly, please review this description of how to use the word “so” properly.

A few exceptions to these guidelines exist. When a guest speaks you do not ring the bell or record any infractions. When a member delivers a formal speech, you do not ring the bell, but you do record all 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. The more you ring the bell, the more comfortable it will become!

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 though you may do so if time permits.

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.”