The Ah-Counter


How will you profit from being the Ah-Counter?

You can get at least four things out of being the Ah-Counter.

  1. Give a prepared mini speech
  2. Get over your fear to interrupt someone
  3. Become more aware of your own speaking patterns, and
  4. Practise giving bad news. It is no fun to tell other members they used 40 Ahs in five minutes. But if you are ever going to achieve a leadership position you will have to give feedback on sub-par performances. Start practicing now and learn to do it in a good way.


Why do we use the Ah-Counter?

Toastmasters International defines the purpose of the Ah-Counter as follows: “The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note any overused words or filler sounds 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”

The Ah-Counter helps us to improve our ability to listen to ourselves and to really take notice of how we are saying the things we are saying. Splendid Speakers do also ring the bell for and count lip-smacks and the likes.*


How To

When intoduced by the Toastmaster of the Evening you have one minute to explain the role and what you will do to help us get rid of verbal crutches.

This is a mini speech. Try to be ambitious and wow us with your description. That could be achieved by using a quote, presenting a fitting metaphor or anything else that will will amaze or entertain us.

Please explain how you will use the bell to assist people to take note of their verbal and paraverbal crutches and disadvantageous patterns.

At the end of the evening please give a full report for each participant.


How to make use of the bell

You should ring the bell each time you notice a filler word or anything else you find disturbs your listening. Do not however ring the bell more than three times, except if the speaker asks you to. Count “everything” that can not be rung.

Ringing the bell is not an easy feat. Once you master it, interrupting others when necessary or claiming your speaking time when challenged will become much easier.

Do not use the bell with guests, for Icebreakers, and with members who opt out. Those members would have to alert you of the fact that they want to opt out before the meeting.


*Personally (Friederike) for me the bell has done two things:
a) I have become extremely resilient against inturruptions and disturbances
b) It helps me to notice and clean my speaking of bad habits much faster. I wish I had an Ah-Counter with me at all times.