New Version of Online Speech Timer for Zoom Meetings

Update May 26, 2020: The Online Timer tool was briefly unavailable on toastmost.org because the web host I work with said it was putting excessive strain on the server. It’s now back in business with a new design that doesn’t generate as many network and database requests.


After several tries, I’ve created an online speech timer that works well with Zoom meetings and has some advantages over the common technique of showing timing colors with the Zoom virtual background feature.

You might want to use both methods to make sure the speaker sees timing lights. But for large meetings where it can be difficult for the speaker to keep track of the thumbnail image of the person doing timing, this could work better.

Here is a video demo.

This screen displays in 3 modes: Normal (the view you want as a speaker), Self Timer, and Timer (the person showing timing lights to others). In Timer view, the green, yellow, and red lights are broadcast to viewers in Normal mode. If the timer for a meeting is not using this tool, you might consider taking advantage of the Self Timer view.

Otherwise, here is how to set this up as a speaker (in Normal view):

  • Click the Popup Light button in the upper right hand corner of the screen to get a small popup window that will change color at the timing intervals in sync with the Timer’s onscreen clock.
  • You can now minimize the bigger browser window and leave the timing light window parked in a corner of your screen.
  • In Zoom, exit full screen and size the Zoom window so you can still see the timing light.
  • If you do screen sharing, share individual applications rather than your whole desktop (see below note on PowerPoint).
Online Timer with Zoom
Sharing PowerPoint in Zoom
Use Reading Mode in PowerPoint to show slides without taking up the whole screen.

Note: there will be about a 1-second delay before timing colors are displayed for the speaker. On the other hand, the automated JavaScript-powered tool will be more precise at changing colors exactly on the second than a human timer would be.

The timer tool can also be used with Jitsi, a free, open source alternative with Zoom.

This tool is designed to work with an agenda organized using WordPress for Toastmasters, but those who don’t use the software for their club website can try it here.

Update: The video demo above shows the buttons and other controls displayed for the timer arranged across the top. I subsequently moved them to the left to make it easier to go back and forth between clicking the start/pause/reset buttons and watching the Zoom screen. Shown here:

The Timer’s view of the tool includes a dropdown list of speech types, with scheduled member speeches and their timings pulled from the agenda. As soon as the Timer hits the reset button to stop the clock, the speaker’s name and speech time are recorded to a log displayed underneath the timer controls.

Controls displayed in the Timer’s view

See also: Online Speech Timer and How to Display it in a Zoom Meeting for a technique for using the popup timer to replace your image in a Zoom meeting.

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