The Rules of Just a Minute (JAM) in English: A Comprehensive Guide


Just a Minute (JAM) is a popular improvisational speaking game that challenges participants to speak on a given topic for one minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. This fast-paced and exciting game not only tests one’s ability to think on their feet but also enhances their communication skills. In this article, we will delve into the rules of Just a Minute, explore strategies to excel in the game, and provide valuable insights for both beginners and seasoned players.

Understanding the Basics of Just a Minute

Just a Minute was first introduced on BBC Radio 4 in 1967 and has since become a beloved game played by people of all ages and backgrounds. The objective of the game is simple: to speak for one minute on a given topic without breaking any of the three main rules – hesitation, repetition, or deviation.


Hesitation refers to any pause or delay in speech that exceeds a few seconds. Players must strive to maintain a continuous flow of speech without any significant breaks. Hesitation can be penalized by the other participants, who can challenge the speaker by saying “hesitation” and taking over the topic.


Repetition occurs when a player uses the same word or phrase multiple times within a minute while speaking on a given topic. The repeated word or phrase must be significant and not just common words like “and” or “the.” If a repetition is noticed by another player, they can challenge the speaker by saying “repetition” and taking over the topic.


Deviation refers to straying from the given topic or introducing irrelevant information during the one-minute speech. Players must stay focused on the topic at hand and avoid going off on tangents. If a deviation is identified, another player can challenge the speaker by saying “deviation” and taking over the topic.

Strategies to Excel in Just a Minute

While Just a Minute may seem challenging at first, with practice and the right strategies, anyone can become a skilled player. Here are some tips to help you excel in the game:

1. Improve Your Vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is essential for success in Just a Minute. The more words you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to avoid repetition and hesitation. Make a habit of learning new words regularly and expanding your vocabulary through reading, word games, and language-learning apps.

2. Enhance Your General Knowledge

Having a broad range of general knowledge can greatly benefit you in Just a Minute. The game often involves speaking on various topics, and being well-informed about current events, history, science, and popular culture can help you provide interesting and relevant information without hesitation or deviation.

3. Practice Speaking Freely

Just a Minute requires participants to think and speak quickly. To improve your fluency and reduce hesitation, practice speaking freely on different topics without worrying about the rules. Set a timer for one minute and challenge yourself to speak continuously without any breaks or repetitions. This exercise will help you develop a natural flow of speech.

4. Stay Focused and Avoid Tangents

One of the most common challenges in Just a Minute is avoiding deviation. To overcome this, practice staying focused on a given topic and avoid going off on tangents. Train your mind to think in a structured manner and organize your thoughts before speaking. This will help you deliver a coherent and relevant speech within the time limit.

Case Studies: Successful Strategies in Just a Minute

Let’s take a look at two case studies of individuals who have excelled in Just a Minute by employing effective strategies:

Case Study 1: Sarah

Sarah, a university student, initially struggled with hesitation and repetition in Just a Minute. However, she dedicated time to improve her vocabulary and general knowledge by reading extensively and participating in language clubs. Sarah also practiced speaking freely on various topics, gradually reducing her hesitation. With consistent effort, she became a confident and successful player, winning several Just a Minute competitions.

Case Study 2: John

John, a professional public speaker, faced the challenge of deviation in Just a Minute. He realized that his tendency to provide excessive details and examples often led him off-topic. To overcome this, John practiced delivering concise and focused speeches. He learned to structure his thoughts quickly and prioritize relevant information. With his improved ability to stay on track, John became a formidable player in Just a Minute.

Q&A: Common Questions About Just a Minute

1. Can I pause briefly to gather my thoughts during Just a Minute?

Yes, a brief pause to gather your thoughts is allowed. However, any hesitation that exceeds a few seconds can be challenged by other players.

2. What happens if a player successfully completes a minute without any challenges?

If a player successfully speaks for a minute without any challenges, they receive a point and continue speaking on a new topic.

3. Can players interrupt each other during Just a Minute?

No, players must wait for their turn to speak. Interrupting other players is not allowed and can result in penalties.

4. Are there any penalties for incorrect challenges?

Yes, if a challenge is deemed incorrect, the player who made the challenge loses a point. It is important to make accurate challenges to avoid penalties.

5. Can I use fillers like “um” or “uh” during Just a Minute?

Using fillers like “um” or “uh” is discouraged in Just a Minute. Players should strive for fluent and uninterrupted speech.


Just a Minute is an exhilarating game that tests participants’ ability to speak on a given topic for one minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. By understanding and practicing the rules of the game, improving vocabulary and general knowledge, and staying focused, anyone can excel in Just a Minute. Remember to speak freely, think quickly, and deliver concise and relevant speeches. With dedication and practice, you can become a confident and successful player in Just a Minute.


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