Speeches have time limits (e.g. 5 – 7 minutes), Table Topics have time limits (1-2 minutes, usually) and evaluations have time limits (2-3 minutes, usually). This is in order to drive home the point that a good speaker makes effective use of the time allotted and does not keep going and going and going until the audience is bored. In the real world, quite often there are practical limits on how long a meeting can or should go; by setting time limits on speeches and presentations, participants learn brevity and time management and the club meeting itself can be expected to end on schedule.
Time limits are rarely enforced to the letter. In only a few situations will you find yourself cut off if you go too long, and that’s up to the individual club.
At Seymour Speakers we use timing flags to warn the speakers of the advance of time. All speeches and presentations have a time limit expressed as an interval, e.g. 5 to 7 minutes. A green flag would be shown at 5 minutes, yellow at 6, and red at 7. In Table Topics, the flags would go 1, 1.5, and 2 minutes respectively. When the green light comes on, you’ve at least spoken enough, though you need not finish right away, and when the yellow light comes on, you should begin wrapping up. If you’re not done by the time the red light comes on, you should finish as soon as possible without mangling the ending of your speech.
The only times you’re actually *penalized* for going over or under time is in speaking competition; in speech contests you must remain within the interval or be disqualified.