Timing contributions in a round (for example for 1min each) works best if it based on an agreement that everyone has consented to. Before timing anyone, make a specific proposal, for example “I propose that we set a timer to 1min for this round. Any objections to that?” Then the facilitator can time or ask someone to be timekeeper, for example on a smartphone. Ideally, set the timer in a way so it gives a warning before the time interval is up, for example 30 seconds before the minute is up. A simple way is to set a timer on 30 seconds and restart it after it has sounded once. That gives everyone a better sense of how long their allotted time frame is and gives them a chance to finish their thought.
Another word on timing: when the timer rings, this does not mean the person has to stop immediately. The timer is just feedback that the time is up. If someone goes over time a lot routinely and you are negatively impacted by that, give feedback in the meeting evaluation. In our experience, when going overtime, it is good to acknowledge that the timer signal has been heard – even if it’s only in body language.
For more information, check out our handbook Many Voices One Song section 5.5.3