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Imagine you are driving on a highway, which is devoid of heavy traffic. You have a 50 Kms drive ahead of you and there are two roads. One which is smooth and clean and the other which has lots of potholes, speed breakers etc. Which one would you love to take?
The case is similar while listening to speeches as well. People would love to listen to you speech only when it is smooth without ahhh, ummm and many other fillers. These involuntary sounds and pauses act as potholes and speech breakers and the smoothness of your speech would be lost.
As an Ah-Counter, you help the speaker to make his speech smoother and enable him to get rid of all the potholes and speech breakers in between. Taking up this role manures your listening skills a lot.
The purpose of having an ah-counter is to count the number of involuntary sounds and pauses uttered by the speaker and make him aware of it. Since these pauses and fillers happen without our consciousness involved, Toastmasters international feels that it is good to have a dedicated person who can note them down.
Arrive early to the venue. In case you have any query regarding your role, get it clarified from the VP-Education or any other senior member. You have to count the pauses, fillers and repetitive words used by the speaker and provide a report at the end of the meeting.
You are expected to introduce yourself when called upon by the general evaluator. You can use the following lines to introduce yourself:
“Hello all. I am Toastmaster _________ and I would be playing the role of Ah-Counter in this meeting. As an Ah-Counter I would note down all the unintentional pauses and filler words like Ahhh, Ummm, So, Like, You Know, Actually, Basically etc which disturb the flow and spoil the effectiveness of the speech. I will provide my report towards the end of the meeting when called upon by the general evaluator. Thank you”
Common mistakes and points to note
- One important point to note is, the ah counter should know the difference between an intentional and unintentional pause. I have seen ah counters who count the pauses which the speakers use deliberately in their speeches to add value to their point. People playing the role of an ah counter for the very first time are advised to get an overview about the role from the Vice President Education of the club.
- If a speaker has 15-10 Ahhhs and Ummms in his speech, I would suggest the ah-counters to just say “Speaker #1, Toastmaster ______ had more than 5 Ahhhs in his speech”. Sometimes when the ah-counters give the exact count and say in front of everyone that the speaker has 19 Ahhs in his speech, the speakers are likely to feel hurt. After the meeting, as an ah counter you can meet the speaker offline and give the exact count which would definitely help him. But on stage while presenting your report please refrain from the saying the exact count if the number is high.