Speeded countdowns: The final option to keep presenters on schedule

CueTimer lets you speed up and down the countdowns. The purpose of this feature is to change the duration of the timer without it being visible on the countdown-screen.
So, to demonstrate, lets first have a look at the countdown running normally:

Then we speed it up with 10%

Do you notice the difference?

Perhaps, if you really focus on it, you see that something is strange with the speeded countdown. But for a speaker in the middle of a presentation, this is hardly something that will be noticed. What this gives the show-caller and A/V technician, is a tool which allows us to change the duration of the countdown in an invisible way.
For example, if you take an 55 minute countdown, and speed it up with 10%, then the actual duration will be 50 minutes. You save 5 minutes.

The story of the speaker who never finishes on time

The ability to change the speed/pitch/warp the countdown is not new to CueTimer, it has been used in countdown-timers for a while. When I first researched about creating a new speaker-timer, I talked to a friend who has been organising one of the most prestigious conferences in Norway. He told me that his team required a countdown with speed, and he gave me one example of how it was used:

One year they booked a politician who was well known for his charismatic speeches, but as a presenter he had one major flaw: he would never finish on time.
This year they couldn’t let that happen: He was scheduled to finish at 12, right before lunch. 
Since hot lunch is very important, the organizers decided that the timer must end at 11.55, five minutes ahead of schedule.   

But they feared that if they just chopped 5 minutes off his clock, the speaker could react, or at least loose some concentration.  So instead, they decided to speed up his countdown to target the End-Time 11.55. 
The plan worked: The speaker finished right before 12.00. Lunch was served warm.

Using speed in CueTimer

With CueTimer the speed-option is available for all countup and countdown timers. By using the buttons in the top command-bar, you can change the speed for the countdown that is currently running. If you want to plan the speed in advance, use the list to change the speed for future timers. 

The way I would use speed, is just to finetune the End Time of the current countdown. You could start the countdown with 100% speed, and if you realize that you need to advance the end a little bit, push the speed-button. 

In this example I bring the speed to 108% to make sure that the End-Time goes below 15:40

Concerns about using speed

When you change the speed of the countdown, the speaker can be deceived into believing that the time is different from what it really is. If you decide to use speed, I suggest you are transparent about it.

.. but the show must go on

Countdown-speed is used in high-end events to change the duration of the timers. It’s the final option to keep the speakers on time when nothing else works. As an A/V technician, it’s not the first tool that you reach for, but when you need it, you will be glad that we implemented it in CueTimer. And, if you are not so sure about this feature, think about it this way: As long as the audience and the performers are happy after the show, nobody care about how the A/V technicians solve their problems. Whatever happens behind the mixer, usually stays there.  
 

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