“How can we help people to be more conscious of the time assigned to them for talks and reports?” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 15
Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, of the First Quorum of the Seventy This is a question that sincerely concerns all priesthood and auxiliary leaders who have the responsibility for conducting helpful, enjoyable, and informative meetings. Several procedures can assist our leaders to help those who have a tendency to speak longer than is appropriate.
1. The meeting participants should be told the specific amount of time assigned for their talks or presentations. An effective and courteous leader specifically communicates the number of minutes allocated, mentioning also the approximate time a speaker will begin and the time he should be finished.
2. A written reminder of the topic, if assigned, and the amount of time allowed should be either sent or given to the participant several days before the occasion in which he will participate.
3. Thirty minutes before the meeting begins, a short prayer meeting should be called for all participants. In this meeting the topics will again be reviewed and the time allocations mentioned, with a kind word that a speaker who goes over his time by more than a minute or two may be handed a reminder at the podium. The meeting agenda needs to be reviewed at this time.
Allowing a speaker to go beyond his assigned time may not be a favor to the speaker or the audience. It may injure the rest of the meeting and may take valuable time from other speakers, visiting authorities, musical numbers, and from those who have been called upon to offer concluding remarks.
Simply stated, if our leaders will do several things the problem will be solved: They should (1) kindly communicate with those called upon to speak, letting them know explicitly how much time they have; (2) remind participants just before the meeting of the time they are allowed and not to encroach upon the time of other participants; and (3) give a reminder at the pulpit, if necessary, if a speaker exceeds his assigned time. Those ideas should be able to take care of the occasional problem, which in some areas seems to be epidemic.