Zoom Tip: Keep the Timer Visible to Everyone

Here is a tip for making sure all speakers will be able to see the Timer in a meeting or contest conducted on Zoom. This is an action that must be taken by the meeting Host (not a Co-host) that benefits all participants.

Placing the Timer in the upper right hand corner, using Follow Host’s Video Order

In Zoom Toastmasters meetings, the person playing the role of Timer typically shows green, yellow, and red signals background images as “timing lights” to let speakers know when they are running out of time. This use of the Zoom virtual background feature fairly well, except when the speaker loses track of the timer — which can be easy to do because of the way Zoom automatically reorders thumbnail video images according to some weird AI logic. People often get flustered when they get called for Table Topics and realize they can’t see the Timer.

I used to tell individual participants to go into gallery view, then drag-and-drop the image of the Timer into the upper right hand corner of the screen. This keeps the Timer visible in the same position in Gallery view throughout the meeting. Also, in full screen view, or when the speaker shares their screen, the Timer will still be at the beginning of the smaller film strip view that Zoom shows of other participants.

This self-service method works, but it puts the burden on each member (or guest) to rearrange their screen.

Instead, the Host can rearrange the video order for everyone by dragging and dropping the Timer into the upper left corner, and then selecting the Follow Host’s Video Order option on the View menu. That’s the same menu in the upper right corner of the screen that you use to toggle between Speaker view and Gallery view. However, the Follow Host’s Video Order option is only displayed to the Host.

This method sets everyone’s gallery view order to match the the Host’s choices. The Timer will stay locked in the upper right hand corner, and any people who join after the order was set will go to the end of the list. About the only thing that will mess this up is if the Timer gets disconnected and has to rejoin the meeting.

Caveat: You should turn this on before using other Zoom features that dictate the audience’s view, like Spotlight, because the Follow Host menu option is not visible when that’s active. (Thanks to Steve Crews for pointing that out in a discussion on TI Official Members group).

Although I’d heard something like this was possible, it took me a while to figure out how to do it because I often join meetings as a Co-host. For the most part, Co-hosts can perform all the same actions as Hosts, but this feature turns out to be one of the few exceptions.

Setting the video order is a small thing we can do to make participating in a Toastmasters meeting easier on everyone.

Author: David F. Carr

Founder of Online Presenters and of the WordPress for Toastmasters project. Past President and member of Club Awesome in Coral Springs, Florida. Also former Area Governor, District Social Media Director. Outside of Toastmasters: writer, editor, and digital marketing consultant. Contributor to Forbes and author, Social Collaboration for Dummies. Formerly an editor at publications including InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, Internet World, and WebWeek.