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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Tran

Advance Event Techniques: Timelines

The use of a timeline for overall event management, or a run of show (abbreviated ROS, which is specific to stage management during your event) falls into the category of so simple, it's easy to neglect.

There are multiple reasons to use a timeline:

  • Keeps the entire event team, including vendors, on track and is a useful visual

  • One place to keep notes, especially random ones that are specific to detailed moments during your event

  • Shows progress and reveals areas that require additional attention

  • Streamlines workflow for annual or repeated events

  • Creates a detailed document of the event workflow and ownership

Google "event timeline" and you'll get hundreds of hits. Everyone has their own way and categories they track. My first boss in the industry tasked me with managing the timeline and the practice has been instilled in me since then, along with creating a way that works best for me. If you don't want to create one, there are loads of options/programs including, Asana, SmartSheet and Excel. No matter which program you use, set it up by functional area. Doing it this way streamlines your workflow as you've already identified your functional areas when you set up the budget.

First, clearly title your document so that the entire team knows this is the Master timeline. You are the owner, and while others might collaborate, it is your responsibility to ensure they either give you the information you require to build out the timeline or you give them access. Pro-tip: If using Excel, send each functional area lead a blank timeline template and include date as the first column. This allows you to copy and paste each functional area into the Master timeline and sort by date, without giving editing access.

At the top of the Master timeline include the following:

  • Event Name / Branding image

  • Event Date

  • Event Location with address

  • Any "at a glance" information (COVID19 protocol, number of guests, permit link, etc.)

  • Functional Leads Names and Phone Numbers

    • Pro-tip: Organize this by Role. If you're working with a temporary staff, you won't necessarily remember their name, but you will know what job you're looking for (i.e., Transportation Coordinator).

  • Client Names and Phone Numbers

  • Vendors Names and Phone Numbers

The timeline portion should have:

  • Date

  • Time

  • Functional Area

  • Action/Task

  • Details

  • Responsible Party

  • Completion (this can be Yes/No/Pending or the date)

  • Notes 1

  • Notes 2

  • Lessons Learned (especially if the event is annual, or to be used in your client summary)

My preferred set up is in Excel finding it helpful to filter and organize as needed. You may not need every column listed above for every event. Use this as a starting point and individualize your timeline to what you need.

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