Affordable Timing Light for Toastmasters

Oct 20

I no longer have any of these kits. If you want to make one yourself, you can follow the instructions here: how to make your own timing light kit. However, today I feel using one of the many smartphone or tablet timing apps is a better experience. Having it change timing signals by itself is very handy!

The Timing Light Problem

Green, Amber (Yellow), Red signals are commonly used in Toastmasters clubs so show speakers when they have reached minimum time, are halfway through their alloted time, and when they have reached maximum time. Many clubs use a set of colored cards–some Toastmasters even carry small colored cards in their wallets for impromptu Toastmasters meetings!

But cards have to be held up in the air and are not very eye-catching. Timing lights are preferred, where actual green, amber and red lights can be turned on and get the speaker’s attention. The official Toastmasters Signal Light costs $185 (and that’s the discounted MEMBER price!). Oh, but wait–they have another signal light just for the frugal ones among us… only $65. Plus shipping and handling. Unfortunately, even that is beyond the fiscal capability of most non-profit clubs… and then there are people like me who just put their foot down at the idea of paying over $50 for three colored lights bulbs and a switch.

I’ve seen about 20 Toastmasters clubs now and have never seen one of the Toastmasters International lights being used. I have seen a variety of homemade signal lights used, but not every club has people who can do that.

The Timing Light Solution

After much searching, and with assistance from the Toastmasters International group on LinkedIn and stellar Toastmasters like Amy and Linda Stough, there is now an affordable timing light solution. It’s a remote-controlled color-changing light bulb that fits in any standard socket, but needs little power. The remote turns the light on and off, adjusts brightness, and can set it to any of 16 colors–although I suspect you’ll only care about Green, Amber and Red, unless your club is very open to experimentation!

LED Light, perfect for Toastmasters

We have carefully packaged 20 of these with everything you need–just plug it into an outlet and start using it at your next meeting! It’s a good thing we provided a case to store it in… this light is so small it’s easy to lose, but it’s bright enough to be very easy to see. Each one includes:

  • The remote-controlled color-changing LED bulb
  • One remote (with battery)
  • One spare CR2025 battery
  • Bubble wrap (to protect the bulb in storage and transit)
  • Instruction sheet for how to use the device and when to show green, yellow and red signals for speakers
  • 12′ power cord, fastened to a sturdy base with a non-slip mat on the bottom
  • Socket (but feel free to be adventurous and try the bulb out in any standard lamp)
  • Sturdy case

LED Light in Box


This solution has finally reached that important milestone–this light is only $25 and is the most affordable quality timing light for Toastmasters I have ever seen. Bear in mind that is the cost of materials.

Edit: I sold out of all the timing light kits I have created. If you would like one of these, I have instructions on how to make your own timing light kit.


  1. Barb Linear /

    Are these still available? Where will they be shipping from?

    • As of now, there are still some of the lights available. They would be shipping from San Antonio, Texas–and for that reason, Toastmasters outside of District 55 may find it more cost-effective to purchase the bulbs from China themselves and make their own timing light kits.

  2. Stephen James /

    Could you provide a parts list so that we could build one for our club?

  3. Barba Petsel /

    We have a club in Plano TX- can you tell me how much cost and shipping would be and if you have any left

    • Thanks for your interest, Barba! At the moment I have two left, although that may change quickly. Shipping is whatever UPS charges–typically $15-20, I think.

      • Do you have any left? If not can you send me the instructions to make one? District 48 in Sarasota, Florida.

        • Sorry, I do not sell these anymore. I have provided instructions, but I will note two things: first, nowadays it is easy to find these bulbs on eBay and purchase them individually. Then you could just put it in a light fixture, or follow the instructions to make a kit. Second, I would actually recommend now that you use a smartphone/tablet app instead. Then you do not need dedicated equipment, and apps can combine the stopwatch and signal functionality. It sounds like a small change, but I’ve discovered it actually makes the timer role MUCH easier, reducing timing errors and allowing them to focus more on the speakers, or to take on an additional role if needed.

        • You can purchase a very good timing light at

  4. Douglas Offermann /


    I have a couple clubs that need them in District 30
    Can you email me your contact information so if you have any left I can figure it out. Thanks


  5. Thanks for the great idea. I used your idea with some slight variations to create my own.

  6. Benjamin Geiger /

    I have one question: How does this work for the colorblind?

    Traditional lighting setups, with three distinct lights, allow the colorblind to determine which light is on, by position. From the look of it, your system would have a problem with this.

    • Benjamin, that is a perfectly valid concern. I welcome ideas on inexpensive timing lights that would be colorblind friendly, however, I will note a few possibilities:

      1. A backup method could be used for the colorblind speaker in your club. One Toastmaster I know made little colored signs for the timing signals, and each was a different shape.
      2. Most colorblind people are not fully colorblind, but rather have difficulty distinguishing a few specific colors. Lights such as the one I indicate offer a broad array of colors, so instead of green/yellow/red, colors could be found that are visually distinct to the specific person in question.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Martha Smitha /

    I’m a member of Tyler Morning Toastmasters and our timing light has finally bit the dust….I’m interested in your light… you have some made up and what is the current price. Thanks.

    Martha Smitha

  8. Brock Self /

    Our Rotary club could use a presentation timing light for our podium so that the presentation does not go overly long. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Graham Fuller /

      I make timing lights using LED lights, very bright. Each set comes complete with a stop watch. Simple to use and can be seen easily by speakers.

  9. Mike Karstadt /

    I am interested in your timing lights for our club. Any help with regards information, instructions for buying, making up of a kit etc. would really be appreciated. Thanks.


  10. Hi there Chad,
    I would be interested in buying one of these lights if you’ve got some going right now. Apps for smart phones are a nice idea but you need something that stands up. Please email me if you’ve got some for sale! Thank you! You should hit every District FB page- I’ll bet you can sell hundreds of them.

    • My apologies, Paula–that batch was sold long ago. Instructions are provided on the site; these days it’s easy to get the bulbs one at a time from eBay, which was the difficult part. I do heartily recommend using a smart phone or tablet for multiple reasons–as long as you have a stand to hold them up of course 🙂

    • Graham Fuller /

      I can sell you the best timing lights that you can buy. I make them from parts that are readily available on the internet. If you are handy with a soldering iron and drill you could make them yourself. My price is $141.00 (Aust) plus freight. Perhaps not cheap but they will last probably more than 500 years (30,000 hours, 2 meetings per week of say 2 hours is 48 meetings per year. 30,000 divided by 48 is 625 years. Nothing to replace, no batteries or light bulbs. Some clubs in Australia are already using these lights.

  11. Graham Fuller /

    I make timing lights using LED lights with pilot lights on the back. They are powered by 12 volt power with either a mains transformer or a separate lead and a jump starter. The life of these sets assuming 30,000 hours per light would be more than 500 years. More than enough for any Toastmasters club. I have seen many sets but rate mine as the best that I have seen.

    • I realize your post is year old, however if you are selling your light set, our Club may be interested.
      Please contact me at website listed above.
      Thank you.

      • My apologies, I must have missed the comment notification. I do not have those light sets anymore. A lot has changed since then, actually–now it is much easier to get the bulbs individually off eBay, and I actually recommend using a smartphone or tablet app for the timing instead of the light. No extra equipment is required, and timing is much easier when it is automated. However, you can certainly still follow the instructions to make your own light kit if you wish, or even simply get one of the bulbs and put it into any ordinary lamp fixture.

  12. Wanted to let this group know about a new Toastmaster Timer app I’ve developed for Android.

    Here are some of its features:
    • Holo Dark/Material theme
    • Runs in the background and when phone is locked
    • Ad-Free
    • 12 presets
    • Shareable speech log
    • Lots of settings to customize experience

    Free download here ->

    Hope you like it!

  13. amber /

    How do I buy this?

  14. Darrel Bishop /

    The toastmasters contest rules require that the light can not be visible to the audience. The exposed light does not meet that requirement so would not be appropriate for contests. Some of the laptop aps do not have accurate or bright enough color so can be such a problem that they put a G, Y and R which are also difficult to read.

    • Actually, the 2016 contest rulebook says “Timers shall provide warning signals to the contestants, which shall be clearly visible to the speakers but not obvious to the audience.” That’s not the same as saying the audience absolutely cannot see the timing signal, which is impractical no matter what method is used.
      My current recommendation is to use smartphone or tablet apps, although I don’t have a specific one to recommend. They tend to be as clear as colored cards, but not as attention getting as specific timing lights. Using the letter can help if there is a color-blind contestant. Hopefully there are some apps that will show the colors in different shapes or use some other indicator to make them distinct.
      If using a color changing light bulb, I wouldn’t be worried about the audience seeing it. If it is a concern, simply put it in a box or use other obstructing material to shield the sides and leave it visible from the front, the stage.


  1. How to Build a Cheap Timing Light | TM Vision - [...] an earlier post, I mentioned creating a quantity of affordable timing lights for local Toastmasters clubs; some Toastmaster friends…
  2. Blog link Collected from Fb group – SSutradhar - […] […]

Leave a Reply