Toastmasters: Your Role as a Timer – Script and Video Examples

 AS A TIMER, your role is to record, indicate and report the time for the speakers. You need to inform whether the speaker delivered their speech according to their project requirements or as per the agenda. Since our sense of timing is pretty poor (as scientifically proven), the timer’s report and time reminders (as in green, yellow and red indicators) are the guides for speakers to improve their time management when preparing their speech and getting a sense of it during their speaking.


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a. Stop Watch x1
b. Timing Cards x1 (there’s an App for iPhone and Android!)
c. Recording Sheet x1 (Our member Carly designed one, download here)


In some clubs, Timing Lights (above pic) will be used instead of Timing Cards to indicate time. The differences? Instead of holding up cards until your arm drop, you flip switches, ha!

At the beginning of the meeting, the host, Toastmasters of the Evening (TME), will introduce you to the stage to explain your role. You will need to bring your Time Card (or asking someone to flip Timing Lights for you) to explain your role.

Your script could look like:

Introduce Your Role

As a Timer, my role is to remind speakers on how much time they spent on their speech and how much time they have before they should finish their speech.

I will raise the Green card when the speech is long enough according to their project, usually 1.5 mins for table topics and 6 mins for prepared speech. Yellow card will raise when they should be aware of their time is up soon and Red card when the suggested time is finished. For Table Topics, you speak no more than 2 mins and for prepared speech, you speak no more than 7 mins. For other roles, the length of your speech is already mentioned in the agenda.

At the end of the meeting, I will present my report for everyone. For now, please enjoy the meeting! Back to you Toastmasters of the Evening!

During the meeting you will need to record the time for the following roles and giving colour display, they are:

1) Table Topics (2 minutes, 1=G, 1.5=Y, 2=R)
2) Prepared Speech (usually 7 minutes, refer to speech manuals, 5=G, 6=Y, 7=R)
3) Table Topics Evaluations (6 minutes, 4=G, 5=Y, 6=R)
4) Prepared Speech Evaluations (3 minutes, 2=G, 2.5=Y, 3=R)
5) Grammarian Report (3 minutes, 2=G, 2.5=Y, 3=R)
6) Ah Counter Report (2 minutes, 1=G, 1.5=Y, 2=R)
7) General Evaluator Report (10 minutes, 8=G, 9=Y, 10=R)

minutes=G(Green Card), Y(Yellow Card), R(Red Card), timing might vary from meeting to meeting, please check with your TME ahead of each meeting.

Based on your judgement, start your stopwatch when the speaker expressing definite verbal or nonverbal, communications. For example, the first word uttered by the contestant, but would include any other communication such as sound effects. Hold up your Time Card (or switch the Timing Lights) to indicate the time. For cards, make sure the speaker spotted your card signals or hold for at least 30 seconds.

You usually don’t need to record the time for a) President Opening and Closing Remarks, b) Toastmasters of the Evening (TME) , b) Timer Report (your own role), d) Guest Introduction.

Do pay attention to the requests from the TME for any additional timing services needed. For example, One minute of silence in between prepared speeches for the audience to write down their thoughts on the feedback forms.

At the end of the meeting, usually after Grammarian (Language Evaluator) and Ah Counter Report, you will be introduced back on stage again to announce your timing report.

Read aloud the time of each speaker that were spoken on the stage. Optionally, giving comments to their time managment, whether they are over time or under time.

Your script could look like:


I now announce the time used by each speaker.

For Table Topics (2 mins), two minutes is the maximum time allowed for each speaker. Cecilia is one minute and twenty seconds, Derek is two minutes and fifty seconds, Jacky is One Minute and five seconds.

Feedbacks: Seems like Derek could speak shorter while Jacky should speak at least one minute and thirty seconds

For Prepared Speech (7 mins), Agnes is six minutes and twenty seconds for her seven-minute speech, Josephine is six minutes and ten seconds for her seven-minute speech and Lilan is fourteen minutes for her fifteen minutes advanced speech.

Feedbacks: Everyone did a great job in fulfilling their project requirements, well done!

Don’t forget *Evaluators, it will be the same as above in reporting the time first and give feedbacks if necessary for good use of time or overtime (expect over time for many evaluators).

*Evaluators: Speech for 3mins, Grammarian for 3mins, Ah Counter for 2mins, General Evaluator for 10 mins.

The importance of reporting the time aloud to everyone, especially to the speakers, is to allow the Toastmasters a chance to realize how much time they actually spent on the stage – which can be either longer or, shorter than what they expected when preparing/rehearsing their speeches. Your role is to train their sense of timing by providing accurate timing report to them. You will be amazed that speakers that gave speeches on the stage would actually jot down the time from your report for future references.

After the meeting, don’t forget to look for your CL Manager or Vice President of Education (VPE) to give evaluations to earn your points towards your Comptent Leader Award. It would be Project 4, Time Management.

Together with Competent Communicator (CC), Competent Leader (CL), are sets of 10 projects related to meeting roles and leadership duties in achieving the Competent Leader Award. You received both CC and CL manual when you first joined a club and they are tracks in leading you to becoming the Distinguish Toastmasters (DTM). You can find more information about the CC and CL education here.

Introducing your role

Reporting your results

Royce is the award winning, past Governor of Area H2 (District 89) and past President of the MDC Toastmasters Club (9194). He started his Toastmasters journey with the Vienna Toastmasters Club (551), Austria in 2007 and enjoys public speaking ever since. He places great emphasis on meeting experiences and members development for speech deliveries. He applies his public speaking skills in his work for wildlife conservations and makes killer presentation slides to convey his ideas. He has been accredited as a Competent Communicator (CC) and has accomplished the level of Advanced Leadership Bronze (ALB) titles. You can find more information in his blog.

Photo by Cecilia Li (MDC), in the picture is our  Sergeant At Arms (SAA), Toastmasters Lawrence Leung.
Timekeeper’s Record Form was designed by our Vice President Education, Toastmasters Carly Lui (MDC), download the Form.

Speech-Contest-Rulebook 2013

UPDATE: A good friend of mine, Karen Chow from the Victoria Toastmasters Club (Facebook), asked a few very interesting questions about Timer’s role in some situations, here are my thoughts and see what you think?

1) Overtime and Speaker Not Leaving the Stage
When a speaker show no sign of stopping and the red card signal already given well in advance. Depending on the situation, the Toastmasters of the Evening (TME) should try to round up the speaker’s thoughts for her/him to pass the stage to the next speaker. The role of timer, even in overtime situation, should remained as a “timekeeper” in recordingindicating and reporting the time to the speakers on stage. The pace of the meeting would be upon to the shoulder of the TME, the host of the meeting, to judge the appropriateness.

2) Sitting Arrangements
Timer should always consider to seat somewhere prominent that the speaker could see the signal card/lights easily yet comfortable enough for tyourself to use the stopwatch, signal card/lights and jotting down the time. For example, it’s common that the Timing Lights cannot be arranged in the centre when the plug is somewhere far away. Do consider to remind your speakers where you are when you think they might need to twitch their heads for you :).

3) Punctuality
Meeting could began or finished earlier/later than it should be, this is always up to the TME to grasp the meeting pace and it is more appropriate for you to remind the TME rather taking it in your own hands. Remember, your role is to  recordindicate and report the time.