Online Speech Timer and How to Display it in a Zoom Meeting

Update: Since this post was published, I’ve come up with a simpler way of sharing timing lights in a Zoom meeting that does not require the use of additional software.

The technique shown below for using the OBS Studio virtual webcam is something I may still use and is good for showing the timing lights inside of Zoom, but I figured out another method that is technically simpler.


This demo shows how the speech timer tool can be used in the contest of a speech contest conducted online. The particular technique demonstrated here includes the use of OBS Studio, a free video streaming tool often used by gamers (OBS = Open Broadcaster Software).

The VirtualCam add-on to OBS Studio that lets you substitute the video feed from that software for the feed from your computer webcam. You could use other webcam software products such as SparkoCam or ManyCam to do the same thing.

Note that you can use the Timer tool to report times, even if you choose to use a technically simpler method like holding timer cards up to the webcam. You can still type in the times and submit them so that the Chief Judge and Ballot Counters will see the votes rolling in. But if you can make the method I outline work, it will save you some time.

Capturing the video from a specific browser window works better with Firefox (couldn’t get it to work with either Chrome or Edge). If you have a second display attached to your computer, you can capture the entire video feed from that second screen, which is an alternate method I’ve used that works with any browser.

Software downloads:

See also contest.toastmost.org – site providing access to the Toastmasters contest timing tools, separate from a club website.

The onscreen timer is a feature of WordPress for Toastmasters, but a version that’s separate from my agenda and contest management tools is available at https://wp4toastmasters.com/?timer=1

The timer is based on code originally developed by Guy Ellis.

If the OBS Studio is too complicated for your taste, you can also change the Zoom background image manually, as shown below, and still use the online Timer tool to track and record the times.

Manually changing background color in Zoom, side by side with the online timer.