Tips for a Timekeeper at Toastmasters

Ready, steady...
The Timekeeper is a pivotal role at any Toastmasters meeting. I’ve had the opportunity to see various Timekeepers in action over time (sorry!) as well as enjoy the role myself, be that at Farnham Speakers or elsewhere.

On paper, the role is very simple, isn’t it? Time the speeches and other activities and report accurately on the results. Oh, and cycle the timing lights as required if they are in use so that the speakers know what is going on!

However, here are a few tips to really make this role shine:

  1. TIMING IS IMPORTANT: We all know this. Be it for business, meeting up with friends, planning our days…. the list extends to the horizon. Why is that some Timekeepers are almost apologetic when detailing their role for the benefit of those present? This is a perfect opportunity to explain why timing is so important (got a good mini-anecdote?). The Toastmaster should be stressing this as well.
  2. EXPLAIN THE TIMING RULES: When do the lights go on and why? What are the consequences for ‘failure’? Now, the majority of people present are likely to know this inside out but a quick explanation is a good idea.
  3. BE BOLD WHEN GIVING THE TIMING REPORT: Be confident and assertive. The report is important: Speakers could be disqualified as a result of their timings! Convey it with the sincerity that it demands.
  4. SUMMARISE TABLE TOPICS: For Table Topics, it is a good idea to not just mention the name of each speaker: Give a very concise summary of what they spoke about. Typically this would be the topic that they were set. It is a good call-back to the session and it also helps out those who are struggling to remember a name when filling out their voting form. See, helpful!

I hope that you find these tips helpful and that you enjoy your Timekeeper role at Toastmaters! If you have any of your own in making the role your own, I would love to hear them.

4 thoughts on “Tips for a Timekeeper at Toastmasters”

  1. Great tips. I’d also add that the timekeeper needs to take the role with the expectation that he or she will be focusing on the timing and not on the content of the speech. I’ve seen too many instances where the timekeeper was so caught up paying attention to a speech that he or she forgot to either switch the lights at the right time or forgot to time the speech all together. While this is a great complement to the speaker, it defeats the purpose of timed speeches.

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