A universal quality of live, virtual, and hybrid events is having many moving pieces, some of which happen simultaneously, all of which need to happen on time. 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. We call this a run-of-show or event show flow. These are familiar to anyone with in-person event creds, and they continue to evolve in virtual production settings.
As an award-winning virtual event production company, we have learned a thing or two about coaching event planners to create detailed, effective run of show templates that aligned and guide remote team members on a down-to-the-minute plan for your event.
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 from our free 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(s), multimedia 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).
We’ll break down each element below…
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 the actual content for your presenters/speakers, whether bullet points (recommended for more authentic presentation styles) or full speeches when needed, as well as wording for instructions, how to introduce speakers or video clips, get attendees ready to participate in Q&A or breakouts, So, it’s not surprising to find a 20-page event script.
In contrast, show flows are concise plans for your producer. 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.
How to create a run-of-show template for a smooth live event
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 in-person events, the main show flow may be written on a large whiteboard or piece of paper 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 Excel spreadsheet or on Google Sheets.
Pro-Tip: We recommend Google Sheets so it’s always up to date and you can always revise without having to email a file to update the production team should you need to accommodate last-minute changes.
Don’t want to create your own template from scratch? Scroll down or click here to get our free run-of-show template as a Google Sheet or XLS now.
Whether you’re making your own template, or using ours, it’ll help to know the purpose of each column and how they’ll help your producer create a smooth event.
Here’s what to include in each row or segment of your run of show:
Add a Row & Number for Every Change in Speakers or Multimedia
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.”
List the Start & End Time of Each Segment & 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 transition time as your moderator introduces presenters and gives instructions.
Between sessions, count on a little buffer time to make room for possible technical or logistical issues.
How to handle time changes in your run of show
For single session or single-track events, don’t stress too much if timing goes off track. Instead, think of timing as a general guide.
For conferences or multi-track events, it’s often essential to start and end on time. Once time goes off track, it’s tough to get it back, so see if you can shorten or extend segments to not delay upcoming sessions.
List 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.
Our run-of-show template which you can download below for free will auto-calculate your segment durations for you.
Describe Each Segment
This portion of the show flow describes 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 with moderator welcome.” This reminds your virtual event producer to cue the emcee 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.
Plan the Show Flow by Listing Your Presenters & Speakers for Every Segment
This column helps your producer better manage the presenters, speakers, and other talent at the show. This field 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 list. Your production team will thank you for keeping that information on a separate sheet.
Pro-Tip: We recommend a separate Speaker Spreadsheet that includes titles and organizations for designing your lower thirds. Depending on your production tool, your producer may have to cue these graphics as they follow your run of show script.
Cue Multimedia: Videos, Graphics, Music & Slideshows
This column lets your livestream or video technician know what multimedia attendees should see at any given time. For example, it makes it easy to keep track of when to switch the spotlight from a speaker to play a pre-recorded video or go split screen with a speaker & call-to-action graphic.
Pro-Tip: List the file name of each piece of multimedia and also link to the URL of where that asset has been provided. While slideshows are great to use from Google Slides, videos should be downloaded and broadcasted by the producer, not streamed from YouTube or other online hosting.
Here, it’s a good idea to list out any type of audience interactivity that is planned in your event including:
- Chat messages – Write the copy to post including instructions, reference links, etc.
- Polls – List the name of the poll to launch.
Pro-Tip: add a separate line item if you want your producer to screenshare the poll results to your attendees.
- Breakouts – Clarify if you’re using automatic or manual breakout assignments and the number of attendees per breakout. This may need a separate sheet if you’re planning moderated breakouts or manual assignments.
How do you fill out 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.
If you’re not using Google Sheets or similar online docs, you’ll need 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.
If you need to make edits after you’ve already gone over your Run-of-Show with your producer make sure to highlight any changes, such as with a bright text or cell background color, as everyone might not spot the changes.