Timekeeper top tips

  • Familiarise yourself with the operation of the lights before the meeting starts
  • Don’t hesitate to use the bell no matter how senior the speaker!
  • Be accurate
  • Personalise your introduction

A set idea within a set period of time”

Unknown Toastmaster member

As timekeeper you play an essential part in ensuring that club meetings are run smoothly and on time. This role demands attentiveness as well as accuracy. YOU ARE TASKED TO KEEP THE MEETING ON TIME! and therefore allowed to cut a speaker off if need be.

What will I learn?

The timekeeper role is humble but very important as one of your responsibilities is to ensure that the meeting is kept on time. It is consequently a very good role to practice and learn time management skills.

You’ll find that these skills are highly transferable in the workplace when chairing or organising meetings!

During the meeting

Aim to arrive at the meeting 15 mins early so that you have sufficient time to learn the operation of the timing lights and ask any questions you may have.

The equipment you will have at your disposal is as follows:

  • Timing lights
  • Timing cards
  • Stopwatch

You will need to bring pen & paper to write down the times during each meeting segment.

You should consider the introduction of your role as a mini-speech and as an opportunity to gain speaking experience. Perhaps you could personalise it with quotes on time? Maybe a quick anecdote about an occasion when time really mattered to yourself? Perhaps a quick joke about time travel?

The three main meeting segments to time are the prepared speeches, the evaluations and the table topics. You will be giving a timekeeper’s report at the end of each of these segments. Your timekeepers report should be sharp and to the point, consider structuring them as follows:

  1. Name of the Speaker OR Evaluator OR Table Topics speaker
  2. Speech title OR Evaluee OR Table Topics title
  3. Time taken


“Victoria Brown speaking on ‘Industry in the Victorian Age’, 7 minutes and 21 seconds”

“John Lynch evaluating Marcel’s speech, 3 minutes and 8 seconds”

“Alana Iron with ‘Imagine you are an alien invading Earth’, 1 minutes and 1 second”

While you will only report the times taken by the speakers, evaluators and table topics speakers. Everyone should be timed including the President during his/her introduction and the functionaries as they introduce their roles.

When the Toastmasters asks for a minute on the clock signal its end by using the bell.

If the meeting is running late, signal the Toastmaster and Table Topics Master for the table topics session to finish early.

When do I need to show the lights?

The GREEN LIGHT represents the minimum time a speaker should aim to speak for.

The AMBER LIGHT is the key point at which a speaker should start wrapping up.

The RED LIGHT is when a speaker should be concluding his/her speech.

Thirty seconds after the RED LIGHT, ring the bell as the speaker should promptly leave the stage! Do not hesitate to ring the bell, no matter how senior the speaker is!

The table below shows when to active the lights for the prepared speech part, the evaluation part and table topic part of the meeting.





















The example agenda below been divided into green, amber and red columns to illustrate when the lights should be show.

Show the lights when functionaries such as the Grammarian, Toastmaster or General Evaluator are speaking. Check their times in the relevant column of the agenda!

It is important to note that some speeches are shorter or longer than 5/6/7 minutes. Which is why you should always pay particular attention to the right side of agenda to know when each light should be displayed! Consider how confusing it will be for the speaker if you switch your lights on but then switch them off as you realise your mistake.