Show Flow Templates: Time-Tested Run-of-Show Event Templates & Tips

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A universal quality of live, virtual, and hybrid events is having many, many pieces moving all at once. The only way to make sure that the event is a success is to create a guide that everyone in the production team can reference. Event show flows are known concepts to anyone with in-person event creds, and they continue to become more evolved in virtual production settings.

Virtual event producers who have learned to scale their processes have done so because of show flow templates. Any great production probably started with one. This is crucial since your team members will most likely be scattered across the country and sometimes around the globe.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of a virtual event show flow template. We’ll discuss how they can benefit your team and your virtual event, what information to include, as well as how to create your own template.

What is a run-of-show or event show flow template?

A virtual event show flow template (sometimes called a run-of-show) is a one-page guide that offers an overview of the structure of the virtual event. With this guide, it’s easier to coordinate with everyone on the team. It also helps you keep track of the event’s run time. If an event is falling behind schedule, the template will make it easier to trim specific segments to get the show back on track.

Different production teams need different details. You may need to prepare different versions of the event show flow. But it’s also fine to start with one version and provide your team the space and means to help evolve it to different scenarios. You might find that certain scenarios, such as fundraising gala events, require their own template.

What should a show flow template include?

A run-of-show document usually consists of a spreadsheet organizing the details of the virtual event’s various moving parts. This typically includes the time, duration, segment description, presenter, content (including file names), and notes. You can expand your event show flow to fit more additional details and resource considerations, especially if your virtual production is running in tandem with a live one (hybrid event).

What's the difference between a show flow and a script?

It’s easy to confuse a script for a show flow and vice versa. However, scripts are lengthy because they contain more detail, such as the actual opening speech, notes to play specific videos, notes to introduce the keynote speaker, etc. So, it’s not surprising to find a 20-page event script.

In contrast, show flows are simple. The flow document is meant to give an overview of the event, so all the information you need should fit on a single page. The more straightforward and more digestible your show flows are, the smoother your events run.

Elements of a show flow template

You might be unsure what to include in your show flow template. So, we break down the elements you need in this section.

First, you need to determine what medium to use. For most in-person events, the main show flow is written on a large piece of paper and hung backstage, so everyone who’s a part of the show knows when their segment is supposed to happen.

For virtual events, it’s easier to keep your template online. You can build your show flow in a spreadsheet document or on Google Sheets. This way, it’s easier to revise the flow document and update the production team should you need to accommodate last-minute changes.

How to Cue Your Virtual Event Speakers

This category of activity usually occupies the first column of a show flow. Although spreadsheets may already come with numbers to indicate rows, adding your own cues clarifies the structure of your show flow template. This also helps you point out specific cells when communicating with team members. Instead of saying “third column on the third row,” it’s clearer to say “row three in the segment column.” 

How to Time Your Sessions

Timing usually occupies the next column after cues. This portion helps everyone on the team keep track of what’s scheduled to happen during that time frame. For example, a speech is supposed to last only 30 minutes. So indicate in your timing that the speech will run from 9:00 am-9:35 am. It’s also essential to account for buffer time to make room for possible technical or logistical glitches.

However, don’t stress too much if timing goes off track. While it’s essential to be on time, unforeseen things always happen during events. Besides, once time goes off track, it’s tough to get it back. Instead, think of timing as a general guide.

Set Your Session Durations

While it may seem redundant, the duration column offers more specific information than the timing column. Knowing how much time is allotted for a particular segment helps you determine how much time is left before you can cue the next part or the next speaker.

For example, if a 10:15 am speech is supposed to last 45 minutes, then the show caller or the AV team will know that the next cue should start at 11:00 am. Running a successful virtual event is all in the details.

Segment Descriptions

This portion of the show flow describes the segment or the activity that’s supposed to happen during a given window of time. For example, the virtual event is scheduled to start at 8:15 am. Under the segment column, you can put “virtual event starts.” This cues the person in charge of, say the voice-over, to begin their welcome spiel.

If you want to break this down further, you can create another column where you can write a detailed description or a sentence about what will happen in this segment.

Managing Your Presenters & Speakers

This column helps you better manage the presenters, speakers, and other talented content-makers at the show. This area informs everyone when their part is and how much time they have before going on the virtual stage. This column also makes it easier for the show caller or the director to cue the next presenter.

For example, while the CEO is making the opening remarks, the next speaker can already be cued 10 minutes before the CEO wraps up their speech.

Keep names to just that, though – names. Long titles and other details tend to clutter the page. Your production team will thank you for keeping things streamlined.

Video Viewing

This column lets everyone know what video attendees are supposed to see at any given time. For the video technician, this column holds crucial information. It’ll be easy to keep track of when to switch the video to spotlight the next speaker or when to play a pre-recorded video.

If your show is slide- or still image-heavy, consider changing this to “Media Viewing”, so you can list other important pieces. Individual videos should be called out, though, as it’s a best practice to launch your videos separately instead of embedding them.

Annotations = Room for Improvement

Since different teams will have access to this document, carve out a space specifically for notes. Each member of your team will interpret how to use this space differently. Giving them this freedom of expression is important. If you know how to be vigilant for it, this is where you can pick up on critical points of feedback. Better to discover team frustrations in a procedural annotation than after tools like your show flow template have failed you. But that would only happen if you weren’t paying attention to your team members’ notes!

How do you create an event show flow template?

On your blank spreadsheet or Google Sheets document, start by filling out the first column with numbers for your cuing. In the following columns, write down in the first row the following: time, duration, segment, segment description, presenter, content, and notes. After you’ve filled out the first row, fill up the next rows with information about your virtual event.

For example, the first row after the column titles may look like this:

1 – 8:15 am. 10 minutes. Welcome Spiel. Voice over opens the virtual event by welcoming attendees with the spiel. Voice Over Artist or Host. Event logo to screen. VO will segue to introduce the CEO for the welcoming remarks.

In the example above, you see an overview of all the elements you need to make the show’s first segment successful. Follow this general guideline when filling up the rest of the rows.

Remember to keep this document short. A one-page show flow is ideal. If your virtual event has multiple sessions, like morning and an afternoon session, or spans multiple days, it’s best to create a one-page show flow for each session.

How to Log Revisions in Your Show Flow

Revisions are unavoidable. Last-minute changes happen even to the best virtual event planners—all the time. The key is to have a system to inform everyone about these changes. This allows you to mitigate for them more efficiently and effectively the next time around.

One of the best ways to do this is to adopt a file naming system. This way, every team member can quickly check whether the copy they have is still up-to-date. For example, you can save your revised file as “Virtual Event Show Flow v3” to indicate that this file has been modified three times already. And those who are still holding on to the second version of the flow will know when to update their copies.

When using a live document such as Google Sheets, a better option is to use light-colored highlighting instead, as different versions of the file would require different links, and everyone might not spot the notifications. Just remember to set up a key in your document so everyone knows which colors mean what.

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