In a programme that can include contributions from 20 - 25 people, the control of timing is extremely important.

The Timekeeper’s function is to provide timing signals to most of the participants and to report specifically on the timing performance of topics speakers, prepared speakers and evaluators. The reports also remind the audience of the names of each person (and their subject).


Using the most up to date programme as a checklist, review the activities to be timed - all timings are printed down the right hand column in the form: e.g. 3 / 4 / 5 is for Green light at 3 minutes / Amber at 4 / Red at 5.

Wherever there is only a single figure rather than the three times this is for guidance only and does not need to be timed.

At the meeting

Aim to arrive 15 minutes before the formal start of the meeting to check on arrangements and familiarise yourself with the operation of the lights and stopwatch - liaise with the Sergeant-at-Arms (or others) if you need help.

»Start operation of the timing lights when the President opens the meeting and for every subsequent function where timings are indicated: rememer to use the bell of shame where appropriate
»After your introduction by the Toastmaster / Chairman, explain the role of Timekeeper, your view of why good timing is important, the times on the programme and demonstrate the lights
»Keep a running record of meeting progress and a specific record of the times for each speaker and evaluator – with their names and subjects
»When called by the Toastmaster, briefly make two reports announcing the names, subjects and times of:
»the speakers of the prepared speeches and their evaluators
»the table topics speakers

Comment on any that seriously overran the target time. (If necessary, also comment on any lapses in the overall timing of the meeting including the start time, the overall timing of the topics session etc.)
»For reference keep a record of the time taken by the Topics Evaluator

REMEMBER: The timekeeping role is a valuable speaking opportunity and it can be a challenge to bring some clarity and originality to it.

And finally....

Straight after the meeting, please find out who the timekeeper will be at the following meeting and talk to them about performing the role.

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