Ever witnessed the following scenario?
On the stage, a speaker is passionately delivering their carefully, nay, lovingly crafted speech.
After a while, the green light is turned on to indicate to the speaker the end of his time approaches.
A bit more time passes, and the more urgent yellow light is activated; the speaker, however, is so immersed he continues unabated.
Tick tock tick tock, and on goes the red light that indicates the speaker should be finished. The audience clearly see the red hue tinging his face, but he power on (willfully or otherwise!).
A further 30 seconds pass, and the maximum allowed time is well and truly exceeded. The bell tinkles…ding a ling…but…..the speaker is unfazed….on and on he goes, and won’t be stopped till he’s finished his speech!
As a member of the club, you probably have seen this, not just for speeches, but for table topics, evaluations and other meeting roles. You might even be guilty! But these sorts of shenanigans are not ideal. Here are 3 reasons why.
1. It shows a lack of preparation
A tell tale sign of a lack of preparation is a speech that runs over when performed. When you rehearse your speech privately, serious pruning, rewriting and re-editing are nearly always required to comfortably fit it within the allocated time.
2. Poor timekeeping is disrespectful to the audience and the organisers
Run over time in a non-club speaking situation, e.g. at work, during a professional speech, at an event or some special occasion, and you could appear self-indulgent, unprofessional and even disrespectful to the organisers and audience. The same applies at the club too: if everyone flagrantly ignores their time allocation, every member loses precious recess time, are forced to finish late, and potentially be denied the full meeting experience (e.g. must leave before table topics). Importantly, the timekeeper might feel like they aren’t being respected if they are ignored.
3. You’ll get disqualified in speech contests!
Strict limits are enforced at Toastmasters contests. Run over the allocated time and you are out, no matter how good your speech, table topic or evaluation was. It happens!
How to use club meetings to build your timekeeping muscle
Spa Speakers is a safe, friendly and supportive environment for you to develop good timekeeping. Here are two very practical tips on how to practice the skill!
1. Practice the art of course correction
Whether you are giving a speech, doing a table topic, or performing an evaluation, think about the total time your segment lasts and learn to smoothly course correct to ensure you finish within your allocated time slot. Don’t just power on!
2. Use the traffic lights and bell correctly!
Timekeepers sometimes suggest that the red traffic light is a signal to think about stopping, and the bell a signal to actually stop. But the red light should be viewed as a road traffic light – and you should definitely not run through it!
If someone gets the bell, they should immediately stop as they’ve already run over and are effectively stealing time from the next person (or denying the chance for someone to perform a table topic).
Spa Speakers prides itself on being a safe, supportive and friendly environment to learn speaking. At the same time red lights and insistent bell ringing to get people off the stage doesn’t feel great. The gentle solution? Every speaker proactively keeping within their allocated time. If everyone respects the clock we won’t hear the dreaded bell, meetings are more professional, relaxed, enjoyable and, best of all, we might even slip in an additional table topics question or two! Yes please!
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