Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Foam flags for the timer at Toastmasters meetings

In a previous post I mentioned that in many Toastmasters clubs the timer uses an electronic timer with green-yellow-red “traffic light” displays to let speakers see how they are doing relative to their allotted speaking time.

At Capitol Club we adopted a lower technology approach about a decade ago, after our electronic timer broke. Chuck Bunch made flags by gluing colored felt rectangles to bamboo handles. One of the handles finally split, so I made another set of flags as shown above. The parts came from the local store in a crafts chain called Michaels. They cost less than $5.

Each flag was made from a 9” x 12” piece of self-adhesive backed, 2 mm thick foam. Foam pieces were cut in half to produce two 6” x 9” pieces. Each handle was a 15” length of ¼” diameter wood (from a dowel rod, sold in 36” lengths). Handles were cut to length with a hand saw, and ends were sanded flat. After the handle was placed on the sticky side of one piece of foam (an inch from the shorter side) the other piece of foam was placed on top and pressed to form a sandwich around the handle. Finally the edges of the foam were trimmed. Michaels was out of yellow self-adhesive foam, so that flag was plain foam assembled with white glue.

Why use foam rather than felt? It is easier to clean food stains from foam. We meet at lunch time, so our members sometimes have food from the Life’s Kitchen Lunch Cafe located in the building where we meet. Life’s Kitchen is a training program for at-risk teens. Their program builds self-sufficiency through comprehensive food service and life skills training, and placement in the food service industry.

If you’re not crafty, Toastmasters sells timing cards with 6” x 8” green, yellow, and red cardboard pages.

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