Taking on this role improves our time management skills. One of the many skills Toastmasters practice is expressing a thought within a specific time.
The timer is responsible for monitoring time for each meeting segment and each speaker.

As Timer you

  • Acquire the timing/signaling equipment
  • from the sergeant at arms and
  • know how to operate it.
  • Explain the timing rules and demonstrate the signal device if called upon to do so.
  • Throughout the meeting, listen carefully to each participant and signal them accordingly.
  • When called to report, announce the speakers’ names and the time taken.

Before the Meeting:

  • Obtain a copy of the Timer Worksheet and Agenda from the Sergeant at Arms.
  • Prepare the Stopwatch on your phone—or borrow one—and be sure you know how to start, stop, and reset. Be aware that phones may go to sleep after a couple of minutes, so don’t let yourself get locked out or forget to keep watching.
  • Write names and times on your worksheet from the Agenda before the meeting, so you so you can focus on the time during the meeting. Be sure you know how to pronounce all participants’ names.
  • Sit where all speakers can easily see you. Typically middle of the room, a few rows back, but not too far toward back.

During Meeting:

  • The Toastmaster will call on you to explain your role. Stand and explain your role to the audience. Feel free to improvise but keep it brief and base it on something like this:

“My role is to help keep participants on time during Prepared Speeches, Table Topics, and Evaluations. I will use Green, Yellow, and Red flags (or lights) to signal that you have reached the minimum, middle, and maximum times for each speaker. 

When you see Yellow, start wrapping up your talk. If you see the red, you have hit your limit and should stop as soon as you can. 

Speeches will be ______ (times vary – see agenda for this weeks times)
Table topics will be 45-75 seconds (this can change)
Speech Evaluations will be 1-2 minutes (this can change)

At the end of the meeting I will give a report on how everyone did.”

  • Physically demonstrate signal device for Red, Yellow, Green.
  • In order to remain brief, do not repeat “red, yellow, green” and “5 minutes, 6 minutes, and 7 minutes” and “beginning, middle, end”  for every type of speech.
  • Start stopwatch when speaker says their first word.
  • Record timings on the worksheet.
  • If person hits red (max limit) and does not wrap up right away, wave the red flag to be sure they see it and stop.
  • The Toastmaster will ask you for 1 minute after each Prepared Speech for the audience to fill out feedback forms. Hold up any flag, or verbally notify them, when the minute is up.


  • When called upon by the Toastmaster, Table Topics Master and General Evaluator give your report.
  • Figure out ways to be fast so we don’t run late, for example: Say “three thirty-two, instead of three minutes and thirty two seconds.” This is not a bit speaking gig but only to let people know if they hit their goals.

Time Management:

  • Prepare your intro and report to minimize time used during the meeting.
  • Intro should be under 30 seconds.
  • Report at end should be under 1 minute and shorter if meeting is running late.

Times for Speaking Roles:

The following times are for reference only and may change in different cases. Please refer to the times printed on each week’s Agenda, unless otherwise notified by the Toastmaster.

Prepared Speeches (various):
4-6 minutes for Icebreakers
5-7 minutes for most standard speeches
8-10 for some speeches.

Successful Club Series, and Successful Speaker Series speeches (for advanced manuals):
10-15 minutes
Some special speeches may be longer

1-2 minutes

Table Topics Speakers:
45 to 75 seconds

Timer Resources:
Timer Script and Log
The Timer’s Toolkit