Email a copy of 'Does Toastmasters Really Need the Ah Counter Role?' to a friend

* Required Field

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

E-Mail Image Verification

Loading ... Loading ...

13 thoughts on “Does Toastmasters Really Need the Ah Counter Role?

  • May 26, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Hi James
    Jinx* – I just wrote about ums at my blog. I was thinking of writing a paragraph about the ahh counter at Toastmasters. I was in Toastmasters for about 10 years and I thought it was the most counterproductive strategy. I agree exactly with what you say about it. Olivia
    *not sure if jinx is a universal term or not. Its what two children will say when they both say the same thing at once.

  • May 26, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I have to disagree, even before I was in Toastmasters the Um and Ah bothered me, of course my ear is more tuned to it now.

    I also have to disagree with the reasoning that “society as become less formal”. When we let things slip we let it become less formal. I know many people don’t stay up on current news, unless it is about a celebrity or a reality show, that doesn’t mean that I should stop educating myself too.

  • May 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I too disagree, because the constant use of filler detracts from the credibility of the message. It also wastes time, something I do not always have a lot of, just to get the message across.

    It also detracts from my credibility as a speaker, if I cannot get my ideas across fluently. So I avoid them like the plague, and am grateful for my toastmasters training that taught me a hesitatin pause makes an ‘um’ or an ‘er’ unnecessary.

  • Pingback:The Ah Counter Debate Part 2: More About Ums and Ahs | Overnight Sensation - Public Speaking, Communication and Personal Development

  • May 28, 2009 at 9:53 pm


    I think you and I jinx a lot – it’s kind of funny. That’s probably why we each enjoy each other’s blogs.


    First, thanks for posting – you raise valid points. I agree that too many ums and ahs can ruin a speech (as can predictable movement, etc…). My question is that whether a few ums and ahs in speech really make a difference and can get you more benefit from working on another area of speaking.

    I certainly don’t think that people should stop educating themselves, but I do believe that the law of diminishing returns comes into play with self-improvement. If I had to choose between spending 10 hours getting rid of those last few ums and ahs or 10 hours learning my material better, I’d choose the latter.


    I agree with you about too many ums and ahs – they do make you sound less credible. Glad that you’ve moved on to pauses instead – I recommended them when I evaluated people when I was a Toastmaster. Of course, I got dinged on them by a Toastmaster recently.

    Thanks to all for the comments.

  • Pingback:Filler Words in Public Speaking - Opinions and Debate

  • June 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Put me in the NO column. Toastmasters count ums and ahs because it is easy. A simple “the ums and ahs” are a distraction is enough. The evaluators can handle it.

    There are lots of Toastmasters missing the points of lots of presentations because they are counting instead of listening.

  • June 3, 2009 at 3:51 am

    So long as a speaker can get rid of the aahs ,ers and umms,by being aware of it, the aah count will be a good feedback.The quality of the presentating will be low if and when the distractions are present.
    I er …hope you and-eh …. I mean aah you got it i er.. suppose

  • October 6, 2009 at 11:00 am

    So we should relax our standards and not demand the best from ourselves because it just doesn’t matter? Sorry, not buying it. No matter whether the general public “seems” to care ( and in reality I think they do), I care enough to be the very best speaker I can be and to communicate as effectively as I can. A brief mention in the eval is not enough as most people aren’t aware when they do it and how often. Correcting audible pauses has to be a conscious effort and you therefore must be aware of when you use them.

  • October 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Wow, sorry for missing some of the comments on here.


    I agree 100% with you. I think a simple comment during the evaluation is enough rather than the exact count of ums, ahs, etc…. Then the speaker knows to watch out for filler words.


    I agree that ums and ahs are a distraction and it’s great to get rid of them. I remember listening to speaker years before I even knew about Toastmasters who said “you know” so many times that the person next to me was keeping track (and no, he wasn’t in Toastmasters either). So it’s definitely a problem.


    I don’t think that people should relax their standards. I just think that too many people take ums and ahs too seriously. I do have to say that I’m kind of on the fence on this one because I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic since I originally wrote this post. If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, you’ve probably noticed that they pay extreme attention to detail, even though most people don’t notice it. There are benefits to doing this, just like there are benefits to taking the time to pay that much attention to detail when giving a speech.

    I might have to revisit this one. Thanks for the comments.

  • Pingback:10 Ways For Toastmasters to Take Their Speaking to the Next Level – Part 1 | Overnight Sensation - Public Speaking, Communication and Personal Development

  • Pingback:Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond Toastmasters | Overnight Sensation - Public Speaking, Communication and Personal Development

  • Pingback:Toastmasters Tips Roundup | Overnight Sensation - Public Speaking, Communication and Personal Development

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: