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Most often people consider the role of a timer as a trivial role. The role may seem simple, but it has high significance. Even if the world champion of public speaking is delivering a speech, only the timer has the eligibility to signal him to conclude. So, please feel proud if you get a chance to play this role, especially in a contest. 
The purpose of having a timer in a meeting/contest is to keep a track of the time taken by each speaker. The timer has to ensure that all the meeting sections start and end on time. 
As a timer you are expected to know the time limit of the speeches which would be delivered on that day. The basic time limits which all timers are expected to know are:

  • CC #1 – 4 to 6 minutes
  • CC #2 to CC #9 – 5 to 7 minutes
  • CC #10 – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Table topics – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Evaluations – 2 to 3 minutes
Apart from these basics, there are certain speeches which have varied time limits. Kindly get to know from the speaker or the Vice President Education of your club about them. If you are playing the role of a timer in a conference, there would be educational sessions spanning upto 45/60 minutes. In that case, meet the educational speaker before his session and get to know from him about the time and also ask him when to show the flags (Green, amber and red).

In a regular toastmasters meeting, you are expected to introduce yourself when called upon by the general evaluator. You can use the following lines to introduce yourself.

“Hello all, I am Toastmaster _________, the timer for this meeting. As a timer, my role is to keep a track of the time taken by each speaker and the time taken for each session. The time limits are 5 to 7 minutes for a prepared speech, 1 to 2 minutes for a table topics speech and 2 to 3 minutes for  an evaluation speech <If there are any other speeches/sessions, mention those time limits also>. At the minimum qualification time I would show the green flag. At an intermediate time I would show the amber flag and when the time is up I would show the red flag. Once the red flag is shows, the speaker has to conclude his speech in the next 30 seconds. I will provide my report at the end of the meeting when called upon by the general evaluator. Thank you”

Common mistakes and points to note
  • Sometimes when we play the role of timer, we get carried away by the speeches. As a result, we might miss to keep a track of time. This happens especially in a contest when we witness scintillating speeches that often captivate our attention. We need to ensure that we do justice to our role. 
  • In a contest, if the speaker is about to exceed his maximum time limit and get disqualified, we tend to show facial expressions out of concern for the speaker. If the speaker notices this, he might lose confidence during his conclusion. As a timer, our role is to only keep a track of the time and not to signal the speaker by any means that he is about to get disqualified. 
  • Dropping the timer cards once the speaker notices it is another mistake we often commit. Once the green flag is shown, it has to be up till the yellow flag goes up. Even though the speaker notices our flag, we are not supposed to drop the flag. 

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