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Orchestrating Success – The Event Runsheet

The Event Runsheet

Crafting a event runsheet or running order may appear to be quite simple but there’s an art in getting the flow of the event just right.

While the perfect structure does vary greatly from a cocktail party, to a gala dinner, or an awards night (for instance), there are some vital rules that ultimately lead to success or a less desirable result. Here’s a few golden rules.

Food & Beverage Service

Ensure the meal service timing is well spread throughout the night – don’t rush it. As a rule allow 30-45 minutes between each coarse.

Don’t leave the first course too late and make sure you allow enough time for each course to be served, consumed and cleared before resuming the formalities. Consider a platter style starter or entrée – it helps guests to mingle with others on their table.

If quality networking is a key objective of the event make sure there’s plenty of time for guests to chat and mingle?, so consider extending your meal service times to allow enough time to eat, chat and go for a wander.

Remember that if your audience is hungry, or have to eat too quickly they are more likely to loose attention. And watch out when serving dessert during a dance band, especially if there’s something that will melt – there’s nothing worse than returning to your table to a pool of melted slop

Formalities & Presentations

Make sure you allow enough time for the guests to move into the room, find their table and have a chat to the guests on their table before starting proceedings.

Then try and keep your formalities to the earlier part of the night/event while your guests are still willing to pay attention,?so do your welcomes and introductions as early as you can – ideally before the first course is served.

Put the bulk of the formalities between entrée and main course. Remember your audiences’ attention span will get shorter the longer the event runs so ideally work in 15-30 minute segments, but never any longer?and intersperse the formalities with a mixture of short entertainment segments


Start the event with an impactful short opening performance – it helps sets the tone and mood for the night?but don’t raise the mood too high too early. Have short 15-20 minute performance between entrée and main and keep your biggest or most impactful performance segments for after main course.

Remember not to have a comedian perform while people are eating or someone is likely to cop a face-full of food from the guest who bursts into laughter with a gob full of food – not a good look!??Likewise avoid avoid having feature acts perform while your guests are eating – it won’t work for the performer or your guests (unless they can’t stand the other guests on their table!)

If you are unsure when to schedule a particular act ask your performers what works best for then – they have more experience in knowing at what time your guests will get the most from their performance.

Finally be kind to your guests, if it’s a ‘school night’ don’t run the event too late or they’ll all hate you the next day!

The Final Word

Oh and one last golden nugget, very few events run exactly to time. Your boss or that Government Minister will waffle on for an extra 20 minutes or the MC will accidentally miss several pages of script notes, so always work out where you can have some flexibility with the timing and whatever happens on the night make sure you keep the banquet manager up to date on how things are going (or you might have to deal with the chef!),

You don’t have to stick to a standard formula, design the runsheet to suit each event remembering your key objectives and being mindful who your guests are. Just don’t forget the golden rules of what works and what doesn’t so start by setting the meal service timing, then fill the gaps with appropriate formalities and entertainment segments. Even better engage Instinct Events and Entertainment to produce your event and then you have someone else to thank (or blame) when everything runs perfectly to schedule!