What is a Run of Show and Why Your Event Needs One

When putting on an event, it’s important for everything to run on time and to happen in the proper sequence. One behind-the-scenes document that can help with this is called a run of show. Often in the form of a Google Sheet so that it can be updated in real-time, a run of show can help your event stay on task – and out of trouble.

A run of show is like the ultimate plan for your event. It’s a detailed list that shows everything that’s going to happen at the event, when it’s going to happen and who’s in charge of each part. Think of it as a big checklist for your event that helps make sure nothing is forgotten and everything runs smoothly – all right down to the smallest details. 

Having a run of show is important because it helps everyone know what to do and when to do it. This way, your event can go off without a hitch, and all the attendees can have a great time. So, if you want your event to be a success, creating a run of show for your event is the way to go.

What is a Run Of Show?

A run of show is a detailed document that describes a thorough plan that specifies the roles and responsibilities of every department and individual involved in an event, along with a timeline for their activities. It’s essentially a master guide detailing all the behind-the-scenes actions, from setting up the event space all the way to tear-down – and everything in between. This comprehensive outline ensures that everyone knows what they should be doing and when. It is key in helping to facilitate a well-organized and smooth-running event. It outlines each important action, who is responsible for it, the duration, when it will occur and much more.

The run of show spreadsheet is in landscape format and shows a variety of items, such as individual show items (events that happen during the show), who is responsible for each item, and more details about each action. Run of shows have a time column that displays the start time and duration of each event element. Each line also contains other important, very specific details of each event (such as what time to launch a video before the presenter starts their presentation, where that video file can be found on the server, and what screen the video should appear on in the hall.) There should also be an Item # column on the spreadsheet so that people working the show can easily refer to that specific event if needed.

Sample Run of Show spreadsheet produced by Wired Production Group

What Should Be Included in a Run of Show Spreadsheet?

It’s important to first create a contact list of everyone involved in the event. This includes event coordinators, AV technicians, caterers, as well as the speakers and anyone else that’s involved at the event. Make sure you include cell phone numbers as well as the contact person’s email address. That way, if you can’t find the person, you have a master list of how to reach them. It’s also a good idea to have a list of backup people just in case you can’t get ahold of the main contact.

The timing of each event at the show is especially important. You want to make sure that everything stays on track. That’s why the time column of your run of show is crucial! What time do you show the intro video before the speaker starts speaking? When should the speaker be given notice that they should begin to wrap up their speech and who gives them that notice? At what time should the presenter start taking questions from the audience? All of these times – and more – should be included in the run of show notes. It’s also important to note who is responsible for each activity – and have a backup person at-the-ready if possible.

The run of show must also cover technical aspects, like verifying audio and lighting systems are ready before guests – and presenters — show up. It should outline specific timings for technical operations at the event, including when to play music, videos, PowerPoints, and any other audiovisual content. These elements need to be prepared and ready to launch precisely when needed, ensuring everything flows seamlessly during the event.

It’s also a good idea to have a color-coded system for any changes to your run of show. For instance, let’s say someone suddenly gets sick at the show and another person has to take over their responsibilities, you may want to make those changes in RED so that they stand out on the spreadsheet.

Always Have The Run Of Show Up On A Screen

Events are unpredictable. That’s why it’s important for everyone involved to always have the current version of the run of show up on their screen at all times so they can see any changes that may have happened.

AV Professional using Run of Show at a live event

A change could be a presenter running over their allotted time, a room change due to technical difficulties, lunch running late, or a person becoming sick and another individual would have to take over their duties. No matter the reason, changes will likely occur during the event, so it’s crucial that all involved have a way to check the run of show at all times during the event.

Consider ShoFlo for Your Next Event

When you’re working with a professional event production company, their technical staff can offer tools like ShoFlo to utilize for the run of show at your event. ShoFlo is an online tool for planning, scripting, and broadcasting events. If you’re hosting a live event or live streaming, it allows you to build the perfect agenda with timing calculations included for an easy event planning experience.

On the technical side of your event production, ShoFlo links the audio, video, lighting, and staging elements into one to allow all event professionals involved in the production to ensure that all of the pieces of the show are running smoothly together.

We enjoy helping clients utilize ShoFlo to make their lives easier. ShoFlo is a solution that consolidates so many of the steps in the pre-production process, and it really gives our clients a better event experience in the end.
Marcus Soukup

Content Manager, Wired Production Group

Collage of photos from behind the scenes with Wired Production Group operating ShoFlo at the University of Nebraska Campaign Launch event

During a live show, seconds matter! Wired Production Group uses ShoFlo because it helps ensure a seamless experience for our customers. The tool can be used in a collaborative manager where team members can build and edit the show in real-time, control a teleprompter, and more.  

Run Of Shows: The Organization You Need

Run of shows give you the organization you need to help keep your event running on track. That’s why they’re so important to any successful event. If you haven’t tried using a run of show before, try creating one for your next event. You will be surprised how much this document will help make your show run smoothly.