Have you ever seen an entire event go off the rails? It’s not a pretty sight for an event planner, but it’s bound to happen once in a while. When it does, it’s often at the expense of the stakeholders who spent so long planning the logistics, scheduling speakers, and capturing attendees.

That’s why the run of show is such an important part of the event planning process. In-person, virtual, and hybrid events involve a lot of nuts and bolts, making the entire event work together seamlessly. The last thing an event planner wants is for them all to fall apart when the cameras start rolling.

Executing a successful event is no simple task. But with a run of show on your side, it’s a whole lot easier. Let’s take a closer look at what they’re all about and how a run of show template can help you keep your upcoming event on track.

What is a run of show?

A run of show—also called a run sheet or cue sheet—is a living document that outlines every minute of an entire event from start to finish. Think of it like this: The run sheet is to event planning what a storyboard is to filmmaking; a front-to-back breakdown of the event’s progression.

Without a run of show document, you’re basically relying on people’s ability to improvise in the moment as opposed to following along with finely crafted scripts. The run sheet acts as a guardrail by establishing the parameters of your event before anybody hits the stage. Having event details all in one place where everyone can find them is essential to hosting a successful event.

Here’s what to include in a run of show document:

  • Information about panelists, guests, and speakers (such as their contact details).
  • Discussion topics and their duration—which most people say should be between 60 and 90 minutes.
  • Talking points for presenters (and anyone else who appears on stage).
  • Links to supporting documents and pre-recorded content (for quick and easy reference).

Pro tip: The larger and more complicated the event, the more event details that ought to be in your run sheet. There may even be a separate run of show for individual segments, keynote addresses, or other content that runs longer than expected.

Why do you need a run of show at your next event?

Hybrid event run of show example

What’s important to remember is that a run sheet isn’t merely a guide or an agenda. It outlines every finite detail of the event, from talking points and production cues to timing and transitions. An agenda is more like a broader summary of activities that doesn’t detail the more granular aspects needed to create a seamless production.

Over the course of a long event there are a lot of moving parts and items that need to be planned. If you’re not careful, this can quickly devolve into mayhem and throw the event off track. That’s where the run of show comes into play. Because everyone involved in the production references this document, it’s critical to executing a successful event.

The benefits of a run sheet include:

  • It puts panelists, presenters, and planners at ease: Nobody likes walking into something feeling unprepared. Not only does it cause anxiety, but attendees can tell when speakers aren’t sure what they should be doing on stage. Run sheets ensure everyone knows their expectations and exactly what they need to do.
  • It can help you spot problems: Because the run of show has all the event details in one place, it’s easier to notice when something isn’t adding up.
  • You can make adjustments on the fly: Events are supposed to have a natural cadence. If you halt speakers to fix an issue, it can disrupt the flow and take attendees out of the experience. Having a run of show allows you to quietly make changes without making a lot of noise.
  • Everyone stays on the same page: A run sheet—especially one that’s digital and can be edited anytime—erases confusion because all stakeholders are referencing the same document.

How to create a run of show for your event

We’ve told you why a run sheet is important—but how do you actually make one?

Here are a few tips to help you through the process:

Find a natural progression

Every event tells a story. As an event planner, it’s your job to make sure the progression of that story flows in a way that makes sense to your audience. 

Think about why you’re hosting the event and what you want to say about your brand. Consider how your discussion topics fit together to communicate that message and the role that every segment plays in taking attendees along for the ride.

Gather and share information with stakeholders

Once you’ve confirmed speakers, talking points, and discussion topics, share the run sheet as soon as you can. This gives all stakeholders a chance to make notes and prepare themselves for the big day.

Also share the document with the production team so that they can confirm transitions, production cues, and other important details.

Color-code every detail

Organization is everything when it comes to event planning—the same goes for the run of show. There’s a lot of information packed into one document, which is why color-coding your work is essential. Not only does it keep things organized, but it also helps people reference details in a hurry.

Make changes as you go

Rarely does an event go exactly as planned. Even though the run sheet is a minute-by-minute outline, you can still make adjustments as needed. For instance, a speaker might take a little longer than expected during their session, or a panel might end a little early. You can reallocate time accordingly to keep the same energy throughout the event.

Take the pain out of planning with a free run of show template

So many details go into a run sheet that creating one often feels like a daunting task. As important as the run sheet is, most event planners don’t have time to build one from scratch. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

We’ve put together a free run of show template. With this template, you can simplify your process and organize everything down to the very last detail. 

Over the course of a long and difficult event planning process, it pays to have a partner on your side. That’s why the Webex Events professional services team works alongside your own to execute your vision according to plan.

Download our free run of show template to kick-start your next event.