Brighton & Hove Speakers Club

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Grammarian (Ah-counter/Hark master)

Grammarian (Ah-counter/Hark master)

The Grammarian role is often overlooked as an evaluator, but it can be massively helpful for speakers aiming to eliminate verbal fillers (ums, ahs) or who want to improve their spoken English. As Grammarian, you can pick the bits of the role you enjoy – then, just bring your energy and passion for words to the rest of the room!

Speaking time

1-minute explanation of your role at the start of the meeting, followed by a 5-minute evaluation towards the end of the meeting.

Before the Meeting

The role has three optional parts – choose which/all of these you want to focus on:

  • Grammarian – sets a word of the day and reports back on interesting uses of phrases, word play, vocabulary;
  • Ah-counter – keep a record of any verbal fillers (ums, ahs, sos, likes) and report back at end – be considerate when thinking about how you point these out and be supportive of new starters;
  • Hark master – a fun “who said that?” role – pick out a few quirky phrases that speakers said, ask the audience the quote and see who was paying attention!

Prepare for the role(s) as necessary (e.g. pick a word of the day).

At the Meeting

  • Prepare to introduce your role at the start of the meeting;
  • You’ll be brought up by the Toastmaster;
  • Introduce yourself, your role, and explain what you’ll be concentrating on that meeting;
  • Throughout the meeting, whatever roles you are focusing on, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the speakers;
  • It’s a different type of listening skill and is probably the most difficult evaluation to complete. You’ll notice how you don’t listen for content as much but rather how people speak;
  • Towards the end of the meeting, you’ll give your final report, noting everything you’ve observed during the meeting;
  • Reporting back verbal fillers and ums/ahs can be uncomfortable for some people – maybe let them know privately at the end if there’s something they could focus on (e.g. “you used lots of “so’s”, have you tried pausing between parts of your speech?”).