A Guide to Being Timekeeper

Here is a simple pocket book guide to help you understand the role of timekeeper at Epsom Speakers. If you are undertaking this role for the first time, it can feel more daunting without clear instruction. This guide can be used to supplement any advice given by your mentor.

Before the meeting starts

When you arrive, check that you have all the required equipment:

  • A copy of the meeting agenda – check the timings are printed on it.
  • A stopwatch (in the box), or you may prefer to use a stopwatch app on your phone.
  • The signal lights
  • A pen/pencil
  • The frog – used in the Warm Up

Be sure you understand how to operate the stopwatch and signal device, make certain the timing equipment works and sit where the signal device can be seen by all participants.

During the meeting

The Toastmaster will ask you to introduce your role; please stand and explain the role briefly – no longer than 1 minute.

Timing is important to a well-run meeting because …

… Speaking over your allotted time takes time away from other speakers …

… On the printed agenda you’ll find three numbers next to each speaking part. These are the minimum, the optimal and the maximum time for this role …

… To help the speaker these times are indicated with the green, yellow and red lights

… In the Warm Up you have only 15 seconds … sit down or you’ll hear the frog!

During the Warm Up: time each participant, if the speaker hasn’t stopped after 15 seconds squeeze the frog. Listen carefully to the Warm Up introduction because the time limit might be different!

Time each speech, evaluation, and topic, plus the topics and general evaluation. Use the lights to help the speaker keep to time (instructions are below).

For the speeches, evaluations and topics: note down the time each person took as you will need to read this out when the Toastmaster asks for timings. When reporting the timings to the Toastmaster be succinct and to the point. Stand and read the list of names and times: “Speaker X – 4:53, Speaker Y – 6:11, Speaker Z – 7:29…”. Then say whether all speakers are within time and thus eligible for the vote. If anyone is 30 seconds under or 30 seconds over the given time, they are not eligible for the vote. For example, with a 5-7-minute speech they need to be between 4mins 30s and 7mins 30s to be eligible.

If you need help, ask a fellow club member. Enjoy yourself, have fun and be professional; learn by your mistakes, we’ve all made them and that is why Toastmasters is such a supportive environment.

How to time a speech and use the signal lights

Find the Timings

Look at the printed agenda. Find the timings for the speaking role you are about to time. In this example they are 5 – 6 – 7 mins.

Start the Stopwatch

Start the stopwatch on the speaker’s first definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience.

Green Light

When the time reaches the first timing number, 5 mins in this example, turn on the green light. Leave the green light on until the next time is reached.

Yellow Light

When the time reaches the second timing number, 6 mins in this example, turn off the green light and turn on the yellow light. Leave the yellow light on until the next time is reached.

Red Light

When the time reaches the third timing number, 7 mins in this example, turn off the yellow light and turn on the red light. Leave the red light on until the Speaker has finished speaking.

Stop the stopwatch when the Speaker finishes their speech/evaluation/topic.

Note down the time taken by the Speaker. You will need to report this timing to the Toastmaster when asked to do so. Remember to switch off all lights in preparation for the next Speaker.