Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Going over time

In April 2000, Steve was at a meeting where 3 of the 4 speakers went way over time. He asked what other clubs do about this. The thread was Timing Problems/Evaluation etiquette

In Robert's club Green, Orange and Red lights are shown as per agreement with the speaker. Bell at thirty seconds after the speaker should have completed, two bells after 1 minute. At two minutes the timer (who is always sitting to the left of the toastmaster) indicates the time to the Toastmaster who should then stand and lead applause for the speaker.

For Denis, the evaluator makes timing a part of the feedback. Over (or under) time speeches are not eligible for the "best" speaker award for the evening.

John F suggested that if the evaluator or the general evaluator haven't said anything, then, it is acceptable for a member to mention the over time problem to the speaker i private. Just confirm with the evaluator beforehand that she or he didn't mention it to the speaker privately at the end of the meeting.

When you do this, don't take a Bible thumping, thou shalt burn in Hell forever, type of approach, as this will probably not result in the desired outcome. Just mention that you are aware the speaker went overtime, mention the reasons why we need to stick within the time limite (you can include the reason above, or you can mention members needing to get to work or home (very effective if you have a member who relies on the bus) after the meeting. Then offer to help the member work on the problem.

In Vincent's club at 30 sec over time the timer leads the applause.

In one of Joy's clubs anyone who is not within 30 seconds of the specified times is not eligible for the best speaker ribbon. Ice Breakers are not subject to this limitation. All of my clubs allow speakers to designate adjusted times for their speeches if necessary. For instance, although the manual says this is a 5-7 minute speech, the person may ask for 8-10 minutes.

Rod reported on the practice in the clubs in South Africa, where at that time it was common to ask a member to repeat an assignment if objectives were not met.

In one club, if the speech is 5-7 minutes, then after 7mins and one second, you would be asked to repeat the speech project on another occasion. This particular club won't allow you extra time even if you request it beforehand. They consider it to be your responsibility to choose a topic that you can cover within the time limits stated in the manual. Perhaps this is a draconian way of doing things, but the club is an old one, has more than 30 members and is one of the strongest in its Division.

The most common timing 'rule' here is that used for contest timing, i.e. a 30 second leeway either side of the prescribed time limits, unless the manual prescribes still tighter limits. I can't think of any club in this District that would NOT ask a speaker to repeat the project after taking 14 minutes for a 5-7 minute speech.

Speakers would not be interrupted by ringing a bell or by any other means. To my mind, continually ringing a bell whilst a speaker is speaking, even if the speaker is well overtime, is an exhibition of bad manners on both sides.

Most evaluators in this District would comment on excessive time, simply to give the speaker important feedback that time limits are important.

In Bob's club, Speakers are also allowed to continue to the end of their speech, no matter how long they go on. They adjust later assignments to make up the time - e.g evaluators stand in their seats and give a briefer evaluation.

When the same members have repeatedly taken much more than their allotted amount of time we have had a reminder given that timeliness is one of the goals we try to achieve and since we run on a set schedule and our meetings are always pretty full, that when someone goes way over their time limit they are depriving other members of their chance to fill their roles.

Cheryl allows 30 secs past red then the speaker is disqualified from best speaker.

I think anyone not following the guidelines of a project should be spoken to during their evaluation - but don't dwell on it; and if it persists then discuss the issue with the member after a meeting.

Jennifer thought it was standard practice for the timer to begin to clap down the speech and those next to him join in.

In April 2002, James was Toastmaster when an elderly gentlemen had scheduled a speech for 8-10 minutes and spoke on his experiences during WWII for 19 minutes. The thread was What to do with a speaker that goes WAY over their time.

Rick uses twice the interval of the lights before the applause was started. So, on speeches, you would have 2 minutes after the red light. On table topics, which was timed 1 min, 1:15 and 1:30, you would have 30 seconds.
We felt that was a good solution. The two minutes didn't affect someone who was trying to stay in their time limit. The first time someone does a humorous speech, they may misjudge the amount of time for applause. Someone who's inexperienced handling Q&A or props may go over. The two minutes gave them a lot of time do something new and be off with out getting clapped down. However, the speaker who just ignored the timing would get cut off.

Susan offered three reasons for staying within the time limits:
1) To help each of us learn - by experience, successful and not so successful - to stay within our allotted times; and
2) To ensure that other participants on the agenda will have their full allotted time for various assignments; and
3) To ensure that our meetings end on time

She supported clapping down a speaker as long as everyone knows the process and the reasons for it, and as long as it is applied consistently ... it just isn't a problem.

The practice of "green, yellow, red, applause" is common in hundreds of clubs up here! And it just isn't a problem for anyone. Another note on that ... generally the "applause" does not apply to Icebreakers. One Club I know of has a trophy that is given to the person with the longest Icebreaker in the Club's history to date .. and the person keeps it til someone else goes longer! I think the current record is around 27 minutes or so !!!!

John F has to fit prepared speeches, table topics, evaluations and possibly a business meeting into a 55 minute period of time--after which everyone goes back to work. Having a speaker go ten minutes overtime is not fair to anybody else at the meeting. To date, we've never had to clap down a speaker. Perhaps because of the work commitments we are more acutely aware of the importance of keeping everything on time.

Tom sounds a bell at the expired time and a bell every minute thereafter. This "politely" informs the speaker that they have gone overtime. This would then be mentioned by their evaluator and the General Evaluator. If a particular member habitually went over time, then the VPE or Mentor would need to have a word with the speaker.

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