This page explains the role of the Timekeeper at a Toastmasters meeting.
Duties of the Timekeeper
The Timekeeper times all portions of a Toastmasters meeting, starting with the meeting opening, through to the close of the meeting.
Being a timekeeper requires alertness and the ability to follow instructions.
Follow the timing listed on the agenda for each speech, and double-check this is what the introducer announces.
As timekeeper, you will operate the timing lights or coloured timing cards to show each speaker how they are doing against their stated time objectives. You may also have a buzzer, bell or possibly something you have brought along to show when a speaker has exceeded their allotted time by an agreed amount (typically 30 seconds). It is up to you to decide whether or not to use that device to remind the speaker they should not ignore their timings.
When you arrive at a Toastmasters meeting, it is important to confirm the timings with each speaker, and ensure you can operate the timing lights/card and timing device correctly. Some speeches have different timing requirements from the standard 5 to 7 minutes for most speeches.
You have the right to check the timing of any role with the facilitator (Chairman, Toastmaster, Table Topics Master) at any time. To do this, raise a "Point of Order", e.g. "Point of order, Mme Toastmaster - could you confirm the speech timing, please?". You may also be asked to check the progress of the meeting or segment (e.g. Table Topics) against the timing on the agenda. This is useful to show how many more topics can be given.
At the end of the meeting, you may be asked to give a verbal report to the meeting on whether all participants met their speech time objectives. It is also useful to comment on where the meeting gained or lost time against the agenda; for example a common mistake for new Chairmen is to forget that speech introductions need a minute apiece.
The Timekeeper role fulfils Competent Leadership Project 4 - Time Management.
Links to More Resources
For more information about the role of Timekeeper, look in the Competent Communication manual pages 69-70.
If you have a smartphone, go to the App Store and search on "speech timer for Toastmasters". There are a number of different timers you can download and try out.