Guide: Timer

Firstly, read the description of the Timer role at the back of the Competent Communication manual.


  • use a smartphone as a stopwatch
  • install the Toastmasters timing app for speeches, Table Topics and evaluations
  • operate the timing lights (or use the timing pad)
  • note times m:s
  • use the bell for 1-min segments (feedback slips and voting)
  • give a Timer report at the end of each session

Download this checklist & worksheet to use during the meeting.

Bring your Competent Leadership manual with you to the meeting. Before the meeting, find a Toastmaster to evaluate you as Timer (CL4).

Elements of the role

Introduction – explain Timer role [max: 1m 30s]

When asked by the Toastmaster, stand by your chair and explain your role.

  1. explain why timing is important
  2. explain timings
  3. demonstrate the lights

For example, on timings:

Prepared speeches are typically 5-7 minutes. Green light on at 5 mins, amber at 6, red at 7 mins. Speakers and Evaluators have 30 secs to wrap up after the red light goes on.

During Prepared Speeches, Speech Evaluations and Table Topic Speeches

  1. start timing from when they start their speech with a spoken word or purposeful movement
  2. show coloured lights at times shown on the agenda
  3. when they finish speaking, note the actual time (mins:secs)
  4. use the hotel bell to mark the end a minute for feedback slips (prompted by the Toastmaster)
  5. at the end of each session, report on each person’s time
  6. use the hotel bell to mark the end of a minute for voting

You can use the pre-printed worksheet sheet to record times and for prompts of timing tasks.

For all other timed segments

  1. start timing from when they start speaking
  2. show coloured lights at times shown on the agenda


The Toastmasters app is a good way to keep a record of times and prompt you to change the timing lights. Practice at home first.

Use your smartphone for timing minutes (for feedback slips and ballots).

Timing cards vs. lights

1) Timing pad

If you prefer, you can use the timing pad instead of the lights. The pad is three pieces of coloured card which you flip over and hold up for the speaker to see.

If you choose to use the timing cards, you must sit in the centre of the front row. Stand the pad in front of you, facing the speaker so that you can flip each coloured page when needed.

2) Timing lights

The timing lights operate by a remote control. There’s one button per colour with some nuances. There’s tape over the buttons we don’t use.

The lights turn on at the last colour they were turned on. You must therefore reset the lights to GREEN before you turn them off.

The 1cm black sensor is at the end of a white cable.

Test the lights and the bell when you arrive.

How to operate the remote

For most of a person’s speech or talk, the lights will be off.

1) Turn ON (shows GREEN)

2) Then press A for AMBER

3) Then press R for RED

To reset, ready for the next person:

4) Press G for GREEN

5) Switch OFF

Anything not clear? Contact the VP Education.