When You Are The Timekeeper

When You Are The Timekeeper


This is a busy role in that, during the course of a meeting, everyone has to be timed. Speakers that speak to time are developing a life skill. It is of critical importance and shows respect for an audience. Many of our members and guests need to leave at our advertised end time to get to their workplaces. 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.

Some further thoughts on Time here

Time Keepers Equipment

The following items are provided for you by the Sergeant-At-Arms

  • Clock
  • Stopwatch
  • Timing lights and remote control (or coloured cards)
  • Timer’s Report sheet
  • Large Agenda card – for you to use as a prop
Please bring the following!
  • Pen
  • Your Competent Leadership manual – to be completed by a Member after the meeting

Your Responsibility

  • Make sure that each element of the meeting runs to time – corresponding to the right hand side of the agenda
  • You are fully responsible that the whole meeting runs on 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 sessions
  • Record and report how well everybody does. Intend to be firm. Speakers will behave if they think the timer will be tough!
  • The ToastMaster of the day should be aiming to hit certain chronological milestones (on the left side of the agenda)
  • Critical timer’s milestone: at the direction of the Toastmaster, stop the Table Topics on time! e.g. 07:37:00 Be REALLY TOUGH

Timing Milestones

  • Everybody should be seated before 07:05
  • The speaking starts sharp at 07:10, you are responsible for getting the meeting started on time! Work closely with the Sergeant at Arms on this
  • Table topics finish at 7:35 for a meeting with a workshop, at 7:41 for a meeting without a workshop. When you reach the finish time, signal to the Table Topics Master by dinging the bell three times during the final round of applause.
  • The General Evaluator (final meeting role) should start speaking no later then 8:35
  • The meeting concludes at 8:45

Please review the exact timings on the following example agenda:

Early Bird Meeting Agenda

On The Day

Before The Meeting

  • Arrive by 6.45AM
  • Set-up your equipment and desk. If this is your first time in this role, it’s worth spending some time familiarising yourself with the equipment
  • Test the lights and have the coloured cards to hand if
  • Check the speech timings – there may be advanced speech or a workshop that requires a different mode of timing
  • Speakers may request different signals for their speeches – be prepared to respond to any particular requests
  • Familiarise yourself with the agenda for the day
  • If you wish, you may select an assistant, make sure you le you let them know what they’ll be responsible for and practice with them before the meeting starts. It’s particularly recommended to have an assistant if it’s your first time in the role as juggling the stopwatch, record sheet and timing signals takes some getting used to.

During The Meeting

You’ll be called upon to describe your role and explain what you do, We suggest you include the following:

  • Explain that your main objective is to ensure each element of the meeting runs to time
  • Hold up the agenda at shoulder height, point to the coloured strips and demonstrate that they relate to the coloured timing lights/cards/flags.
  • Point at the lights. Invite your audience to turn and have a look.
    GREEN is for MINIMUM time;
    AMBER is for a KEY POINT that you’ve marked in your speech script;
    RED is for STOP.
    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! 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 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 her go . . . . . . even if it’s three minutes. Then slowly show green, amber, red.
  • When you reach the green, keep the light on until it is time to switch to amber, and keep on the amber until it is time to switch to red.

You can view introductions that previous Toastmasters have used at the bottom of this page.

Recording Times

Record the times for the following:

    • Each individual Table Topic Speaker
    • The Workshop presenter
    • Prepared Speakers
    • The Table Topics Evaluator
    • Speech Evaluators

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.

Reporting Times

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 – report on Table Topics Evaluator and Speech Evaluators

Correctly capture the speakers’ names and speech titles (or at least a clue as to what they spoke about), as this will help the audience know who to vote for.

Timings For Feedback and Voting

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 Time Keeper 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.
As a general rule, as Time Keeper you should be allowed to discharge your responsibilities without intervention. On occasion, the Toastmaster or President may overrule, so keep an eye out for signals from them.

After the meeting

  • This role can be evaluated in Project 4 of the Competent Leader manual so be sure to bring your manual with you. This week’s Reception will provide you with a Competent Leader evaluation. In return, please spend a few minutes during the meeting to provide Reception with a Competent Leader evaluation. If they do not have their manual with them, you will find an evaluation form next to your name badge.
  • Bask in the glow of a well run meeting!

Time Keeper Introductions

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