The role of Finemaster is not a traditional Toastmasters assignment. More usually, clubs around the world assign the title of Grammarian or “Ah-counter” to a member who is tasked with recording and reporting on errors that occur in the course of a club meeting.
At E&Y Toastmasters, we don’t take ourselves quite as seriously. Our Finemaster role, though not unique to our club, is a slightly quirkier take on the watchdog role.
As Finemaster, you’re expected to report on errors, funnies, double-entendres, strange use of props, mistakes, peculiarities and humorous, though odd, moments that happen during the meeting. During your report, you will single out the member and his or her fineworthy offence, and someone else will tour the room and collect a small fine, usually R2 or R5, from each guilty party.
The trick to being a good Finemaster lies in creating an amusing segment in its own right by your witty phrasing of each offence. This creates a lovely summary of the evening’s more interesting moments and becomes an entertaining segment in itself.
A good way to do this is to record each error or funny moment or strange reference on a sheet of paper as it occurs. Record them all, no matter how arbitrary they seem, because you won’t use them all in your fining session.
During the dessert and coffee break, take some time out to analyse your results. You should find you have about ten or twenty moments recorded. Your goal now is to reduce these down to five or so that are funny, resonate with the group and make you as Finemaster look good, entertaining and sharp.
A simple example. John said: “My mother used to whip my dad’s ass…”
You say: “John, a fine to you for telling us how your mom used to whip your dad’s ass. That’s giving away a little more family history than we expect in this environment.”
The laugh comes more from your interpretation of the faux pas than from the statement itself. This is because each member of your audience has experienced it already in the context of John’s speech, and your personal take on it augments their experience of the evening.
Of course, if you want you can also count “ah”s and grammatical errors, and report on them. But please do so in a way that is entertaining as well.
And, in our experience you won’t have to fine people for technical errors, because the average E&Y club meeting elicits enough funnies to ensure that your Finemaster’s report, with your unique interpretation, is entertaining enough on its own.