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Show Flows: Optimizing and Simplifying Your Most Important Document

Cameron Magee
on June 04, 2020

Simplifying Your Event Day Script

Event planners spend months planning every detail. On-site, the day of the event, those months of details need to be communicated to dozens of people. How do you do that in a clear, succinct way? Simplify your event day script into a show flow.

Script vs Show Flow

Scripts can be lengthy. Sometimes 20-25 pages of information. There’s a lot of detail in scripts including opening remarks, cuing the house lights, playing the video, and introducing the keynote speaker, but show flows are simple, one-page documents that give an overview. These documents can often communicate 80% or more of the plan, in a fraction of the space. Having a simple, clear event show flow template is key to ensuring your event runs smoothly.

Different Teams Need Different Amounts of Detail

Your venue house staff needs to know when the session will begin so they can replenish your refreshments in the hall. However, they don’t need to know every word that will be spoken from stage. A script is helpful for presenters on stage, but giving that level of detail to every event day team member can be debilitating.

Changes, Changes, Changes

Every good event planner knows, it’s not about having a perfect plan, it’s about being ready when the changes roll in. Things change. Midway through your opening session, the presenter may ask for 20 minutes instead of their allotted 15. If all the event timing is woven into a 20-25 page word document, every single timing cue needs to be retyped manually now. With a one-page show flow built in a spreadsheet with formulas, simply retyping one duration can adjust all your times.

Another aspect that often changes is a presenter’s talking points. If you have their text written into your document, it’s difficult for them to revise. You don’t want to be revising your overall document every time they tweak their content. Instead, separate that out. Put each presenter’s remarks in separate word documents. On your show flow, the 20 minute segment is labeled, “Year in Review with Brett.” Then Brett is free to revise his content at leisure without disrupting the overall show flow.

How to Write Your Show Flow

Show Flows can have a lot of columns and rows, but don’t be overwhelmed while creating the document. This is a good process to undergo in planning. It doesn’t have to take long. This process allows you to clearly see each unique component of your event. It gives you clarity about how each piece fits together. Just take it column by column, starting with the segment name.

Columns:

  • Line number
  • Time of day
  • Duration in minutes
  • Segment Name
  • Presenter Name
  • Support Materials (stage/furniture needs/preferences, Visual Aids)
  • Content
  • Production
  • Notes

You show flow needs to fit on one page. If your event has multiple sessions or multiple days, create a one-page show flow for each session. For instance, if there is a Morning Opening Session lasting 2 hours, create a Morning Opening Session Show Flow. Then if you have an Afternoon Closing Session lasting 90 minutes, that’s a second document. Each show flow should fit on one page. 30 rows at most. If it’s any longer than that, you may have included more detail than necessary.

TIP #1: OWNERSHIP If you are the event planner, you should own this document. Not your executives, not their assistants, and not the speechwriters. You write it. You own it. You are the steward of the show flow, just like you are the steward of the event.

TIP #2: REVISIONS Revise it weekly or daily leading up to the event and export PDFs with version numbers, like this:

01 Morning Show Flow v4

02 Afternoon Show Flow v4

Use double digits to keep the files sorted chronologically. When you upload these for sharing, they may sort in alphabetical order, and you want “01 Morning” to come before “02 Afternoon”.

Segment Examples

Let’s do two segment examples together.

EXAMPLE ONE: Presenter Segment

11. 8:38am. 10mins. Year in Review. Brett Robinson. Produce Examples. Slides with 2 MOS Videos. Lavalier. Brett introduces John.

So, Brett is in the middle of our morning session. He goes on at 8:38am, but, your show flow is built in a spreadsheet with formulas. If the segment before him requests more/less time, changing their duration can automatically update his start time. So much better than retyping in a text document!

He’ll talk about last year’s performance, and he’ll thank the product team for their attention to quality. He’ll also need a few props on stage. He’ll have slides, with two videos. Those videos are MOS, or silent, so they’ll play behind him as a visual while he speaks over them, no need to dip the house lights. You’d like him to have a lavalier since he’s up there for 10 minutes, a long time to hold a handheld microphone. And lastly, but most importantly for Brett, when he reviews this, he knows he is supposed to pitch to John who is up next. Without this information, Brett may just say, “Thank you, that’s all for me” and walk off the stage, leaving a very awkward transition for John to get up there.

Let’s do a second example!

EXAMPLE TWO: SIZZLE VIDEO

19. 9:55am. 3mins. VIDEO: Highlight Sizzle. VIDEO. Remove Podium. VIDEO. Strong audio, stage dark, dip house lights, video on DSMs. Jane takes stage during video.

This is a fun one. In this one line you have decided, and communicated, so much. This is the 19th line in your show flow. At 9:55am, a 3min video will play, that file name on your flash drive is called “Highlight Sizzle.” During the video, you’d like the stage manager and crew to remove the podium from the stage that was just needed for the previous segment. It needs to be gone for the next segment.

This isn’t a normal video, it’s very high energy, so you’ve asked the audio tech to make it loud. Your lighting director will make the stage dark (for the podium to be removed without distracting the audience with the transition). House lights are dipped to make the energetic video more dramatic. You’ve also asked for the DSMs (downstage monitors–the TVs in front of the stage for your presenters to see their slides) to change from showing their typical slides to show this video. You’ve told Jane she needs to take the stage while this happens so that when it ends there’s no awkward waiting, she’s ready for her segment. She won’t be able to see the projector screens on stage so asking for the video to show in the DSMs will help her feel confident in knowing when it’s over.

Try Something New, Feel the Difference

Show Flows can be very powerful tools. They communicate a lot of information, to the right people. By separating presenter remarks from this document, you free yourself from revising those. Give that control to the presenters. Your focus is on the session as a whole. Show Flows save you time from revising text documents over and over. Formulas are your friend!

Try using this format when planning your company’s next big event. You’ll find it helps you to think more clearly in planning. You’ll see the results on stage. Transitions with your production crew will be tighter. Your presenter will have more confidence. And no one will have to sift through 20-25 pages of script copy to know the overall plan. Enjoy!

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