The Color Timer

The Color-Timer Method: Exploring the Use of a Visual Timekeeping Application in Introductory Public Speaking Classes*

I have developed and am testing a new, color-based timing device for use in public speaking classrooms. My co-investigators and I conducted an exploratory study to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool as a means of reducing public speaking anxiety, improving student performance, and improving time management during formal speeches. The study was conducted at a small nursing college in Ohio where student participants (n=106) used the color-timer during a speech and then completed a short opinion survey. Broadly, students found the timer to be reasonably accurate, not distracting, and more helpful than harmful with regard to anxiety and performance. Practical implications for using the color-timer are outlined. Additionally, directions for future, more controlled, empirical research are presented, along with recommendations for improvements to the color-timer tool. The authors conclude that the color-timer application is a viable option for public speaking instructors, and is expected to be well-received by students.

*This paper is pending revisions and publication.


If you would like to use the Color Timer in your own public speaking classes, please feel free!

Visit http://colortimers.com to get started!
Simply enter the maximum length of the speech in the toolbar along the bottom, and click “Start.”  You can enable or disable the color display and number display by toggling the appropriate checkbox.

The color sequence is as follows (including transitions between):  black > blue > green > yellow > orange > red > black

When the timer hits the length you’ve entered, it will be back to black.  The timer will keep running until you press “Pause.”

In my classroom, I display this timer on an iPad which is sitting on the desk in front of me, facing the students during their speech.