The Timekeeper times each meeting participant and provides helpful signals so they can gauge how much of their allocated time is left. In taking on this crucial meeting role, you are helping speakers develop valuable speaking and life skills: increasing a speaker’s awareness of their tempo and opportunities to change it.
Editing for impact. Rather than being unconstrained and rambling, the value we place on time encourages speakers to use their time wisely, choose their content carefully and edit to get their message across powerfully.
Respect for the schedules of the audience and those who they share the agenda with. Many need to leave at the advertised finish time for work. Imagine how awkward a new guest would feel as the minutes tick on past 8:45, knowing the need to get away to work but not wanting to disrupt the meeting.
The following items are provided for you:
- Timing flags (or lights)
- Timer’s Report sheet
- Oversized Agenda – for you to use as a prop
- Stopwatch (or you may use your phone if you prefer)
- Make sure that each element of the meeting runs to time – corresponding to the right-hand side of the agenda.
- In collaboration with the Toastmaster, make sure the meeting as a whole runs to time – corresponding to the left side of the agenda! You have the authority to get the meeting started and to get functionaries to move through their segments.
- Record and report how well everybody does. Intend to be firm. Speakers will behave if they think the timer will be tough!
- The speaking starts sharp at 07:10. You are responsible for getting the meeting started on time. Work closely with the Sergeant at Arms and Toastmaster on this
- It is crucial that Table Topics ends on time. Be strict. Before the meeting, you may wish to establish signalling between the Toastmaster and yourself for the last Table Topic and drawing the session to a close.
- Other key milestone times are marked in red on the left-hand side of the agenda.
- The meeting concludes at 8:45
On the day
Before the meeting
- Arrive by 6.45AM
- Check that you have all the equipment you need and that it is functioning properly.
- Familiarise yourself with the agenda for the day and the speech timings which will differ depending on the project.
- Speakers may request different signals for their speeches (though not extra time) – be prepared to respond to any requests.
- Between the stopwatches, timers sheets and flags, there’s a lot to juggle, so select an assistant. Make sure you let you let them know what they’ll be responsible for and practice with them before the meeting starts. Having an assistant is a great way of getting an Aspiring (or New) Member involved in the club.
During the meeting
You’ll be called upon to describe your role and explain what you do. You might want to:
- Explain the purpose of your role and why it is important.
- Clearly demonstrate the timing signals and how they relate to the columns on the agenda
GREEN is for MINIMUM time;
AMBER is for a KEY POINT that you’ve marked in your speech script;
RED is for MAXIMUM time.
The BELL means the speaker is in the BAD MANNERS zone
- Explain that if anyone continues to speak, ten seconds after the RED, you’ll “ding” the bell. Announce that at twenty seconds you will begin to applaud, and invite the audience to join you!
- Explain that you will report back on time during the course of the meeting.
- Expand – it’s a speech after all. Make it fun, philosophical, or something else!
- The timing for each Topic or Speech starts from the first verbal or physical gesture from the participant. In the case of the Interview, the time for the Interviewee to respond doesn’t start until after the question has been asked.
- When you reach the green, keep the flag held out until it is time for amber, and keep on the amber until it is time red.
- Don’t wave the flags distractingly – they are a subtle signal to the speaker rather than the audience.
- When ringing the bell, don’t be shy! Be bossy! Don’t be intimidated if a speaker continues. Keep ringing the bell. More members will burst into applause to heckle the speaker from the stage (no matter how senior the speaker). Secret: There’s an exception to this rule – it’s when a new table topic speaker freezes. The prescient willpower in the room will enable that speaker to deliver, not only deliver, but gush! When he/she gushes just let him/her go . . . . . . even if it’s three minutes. Then slowly show green, amber, red.
- Record each and every speaker’s time on the Timer’s Report sheet, even if it’s not for a role that you report on stage e.g. Guest Host.
- You will be provided with a Timerkeeper’s Record sheet.
You will be asked to report by the Toastmaster at the following occasions:
- After the table topics – report on all of the table topic speakers
- After the prepared speakers – report on all workshop presenter and speakers
- After the speech evaluators/Linguist – report on Table Topics Evaluator, Speech Evaluators (and Linguist if on the agenda)
Correctly capture the speakers’ names and speech titles, as this will help the audience know who to vote for.
Times for feedback
You will be asked by the Toastmaster to:
- Ding after 60 seconds to allow for feedback for the workshop presenter and prepared speakers
- Ding at 30 seconds to allow for voting for best Table Topic Speaker, Speaker and Evaluator
Who’s in charge?
The Timekeeper is the authority on time within the meeting, however the Toastmaster also has a responsibility to keeping to time as they run the meeting as a whole. The Toastmaster needs your assistance as part of his/her team to do this.
Generally speaking, as Timekeeper you should be allowed to discharge your responsibilities without intervention. On occasion, the Toastmaster may overrule, so keep an eye out for signals from them.
After the meeting
- Hand the Timer’s Record Sheet to the VPE