Monday, August 17, 2009

Toastmasters Speech Timing Cards - Improvised & DIY

Today, I finished making a set of improvised signal cards for timing Toastmasters speeches. Others would call these "timing cards". They're quite durable since they're really made of heavy plastic.

These timing cards are meant to replace the battery-operated Toastmaster signal lights device that we previously used at the club. That timing lights device seems to have some circuit contact problems.

Even with the rotary switch clicking into the correct position, one or two lamps don't light up. It might take a little bit of twisting or nudging on the switch knob for contact to happen and the LED light to light up. So there are two problems: getting the LED to light up is one thing, getting the LED to stay lit is another.

Need for a Timing or Signal Device for Speeches

I've since retired from the office and have not contacted Anthony, the guy who made assembled the timing lights device. I don't have much electrical/electronic skills to repair the device but I'm keeping the unit just in case I stumble into someone who could repair it.

In the meantime, our Toastmasters club continue to meet and we need something for the designated Meeting Timer to time our speeches. It becomes mildly irritating when club members deliver speeches with no consideration at all for the required speech time duration.

Timing Cards for Timing Toastmasters Speeches

Many clubs use them. They're low cost and many Toastmasters clubs take the DIY route to make or fabricate them, usually from colored card boards or paper.

Toastmasters International actually sells the colored Timing Cards. I've seen some models where the colored timing cards are mounted on a stand like how some upright desk calendars are assembled. You then flip one page (or card) after another, much like an easel board.

But if you don't have that type of timing cards with a built-in stand, you could just improvise. Here's a toastmasters club that just uses stiff colored paper.

You could actually still see the barcode price sticker on the red card. The stand being used to keep the card upright is some sort of a file folder holder.

Low-cost DIY Toastmasters Timing Cards

My low-cost solution for making toastmasters timing cards are plastic fans. I covered them with colored paper on both sides.

You may be tempted to have one color on one side and a different one on the other side. But that may create some problems like the Timer must double-check which color is facing who.

So eliminate the potential confusion to the speaker and/or to the audience. The speaker and audience should know what color signal is currently up - just like the timing lights.

How to Use the Timing Cards

It's easy. When the minimum time is up, raise and show the green fan as pictured below.

If you want the color to remain "up", you could use the file folder holder or improvised further like this old tissues holder. Practically anything with slots to keep items upright will suffice.

(See Part 2 - Toastmasters Speech Timing Cards - Improvised & DIY for the continuation of this article)