One of the trickier aspects of public speaking is finding a way to condense your thoughts, practice and handful of note cards into an allotted speaking time. Over-practicing to time everything just right can often leave your speech sounding too rehearsed, which could mean you might fail to capture your audience’s attention.
The SpeakerClock iPhone app (free) attempts to allow a public speaker room to maneuver while helping to keep an eye on the ticking clock with a countdown timer. The timer has three settings, lit in the colors of traffic lights – green, yellow and red – which are meant to help show a speaker just how much time they have to get their point across.
Each light can be custom set, so if you’d like to make a 20-minute speech that gives you a first warning at 10 minutes and then a final wrap-up warning at two minutes, it can be set up with just a few taps of your finger.
The app comes with a FAQ that explains the light settings, but as helpful as that is, it seems bizarre that there isn’t a simpler way to set up the warning lights in the option menu. As it is, there’s no confirmation given to let you know whether you’ve properly calibrated the warnings unless you swipe your finger across the app, thereby manually decreasing the time and seeing if the warning lights change.
Additionally, although it is explained in the iTunes App Store, there is nothing in the app that actually tells you how to begin the timer. There is a detailed description of the warning lights and how to set them, but nothing at all about beginning your countdown timer. It was only after tapping randomly all over the screen did I find that the timer starts and stops when you tap the time. While that makes sense, a start button would seem like an obvious addition for an update.
That doesn’t mean I think SpeakerClock is terrible. It’s a cool concept to help speakers time out their remarks more carefully. The app’s appeal -- that it just wants to be a clock that stays out of your way -- also is its downfall currently, as not enough information is displayed on the screen. With a few updates, this would be an A+ timer app.