Just-a-Minute: The Game

The Game

Just-A-Minute invites the student speaker to talk on a given topic for sixty seconds without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. Two teams of four will compete in a challenging game that calls for strong speaking and listening skills.


The materials required for Just-A-Minute are simply a stopwatch and two sets of four buzzers. A student host conducts the game and a teacher may act as the final judge should any disputes occur.


There are two important skills required over and above knowledge of the subject, and they are speaking skills and listening skills. The speaker must be clear, confident, and able to speak without hesitation or deviation from topic. Opposing team members must listen carefully in order to determine if any of those three rules are broken.

The Rules

To start the game, the host will call a letter from The ABC's of the Battle of the Atlantic.

The first team to hit the buzzer gets the opportunity to choose a member to say the rhyming couplet. If correct, that individual will have 'just a minute' to speak on that aspect of the Battle of the Atlantic.

For example, if 'H' is called and the rhyme is correctly identified, “H is for Halifax, primary port of our nation&rdquo, that team member will be given one minute to speak on that topic, without hesitation, deviation, or reptition. The focus is open: Halifax, key port in the battle or vital link with Britain. Etc.

The opposing team members must listen carefully in case any of the three rules are broken. If they feel that the speaker has broken a rule they may buzz and challenge. The clock is stopped.

If the host accepts the challenge, the challenging team gets one point and takes over the remaining time on the clock. The new speaker will continue with the topic but cannot repeat what the other team's speaker has already said. The opposing team must now listen carefully to make sure that the rules are followed.

At any time, when a team has the floor, the speaker may 'tag' a team member to take over. When a tag is made, the clock is stopped in order tha the new speaker may rise and is restarted upon the direction of the host.



As a knockout competition with 6-8 teams per class, Just-a-Minute provides an excellent academic exercise. The game also offers a grade or school challenge.

Just-a-Minute lends itself to set design. This challenges the art department, shop and science department to build simple buzzers and design and construct simple sets.

Video taping the game series is an exercise worth considering as it lends itself to review of student public speaking skills and knowledge of their subject.


Just-a-Minute is the creation of Ian Messiter, and was produced as a BBC radio game show. Permission to modify for use as an educational project was granted to Tom Dykes in 1991.

The Just-a-Minute game format has been used with great success as a vehicle for reinforcing concepts, challenging student abilities to address issues and stimulating discussion.

Just-a-Minute format has been used to focus on such topics as Drug Awareness, Fire Safety, Bullying, and Shop Theft. Maplehurst PS, St. Mark, St. Michael, and St. Raphael are some of the Halton schools where the Just-a-Minute programme has been used. Halton Regional Police and Burlington Fire Department have also participated in the presentations.