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-timersfor 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 the speed functionality, 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. I don’t think he ever realized that his time was manipulated. 

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 the 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

Speeding up and down the countdowns was a special feature created for showbusiness and high-end events where the show-callers and AV-technicians wanted extreme control of the schedule. It is probably not the right choice for all types of events and situations where you need a countdown. 
You can also deceive the speaker/viewer of the clock into believing that the time is different from what it really is. This can have some moral implications. If you decide to use speed, you should probably be transparent about it.

.. but the show must go on

Countdown-speed is a powerful tool you can use when nothing else keeps the speaker on time. You might not never have to use it, but when you need it, you will be glad that we implemented it in CueTimer. And, if you are not sure about this speed-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 technician solved their problems. What happens behind the mixer, usually stays there.  


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