Ensuring a Flawless Performance: The Importance of Documenting Cues and Having a Detailed Show Flow

We’ve all had that amazing conference experience where the content left such a lasting impression you still think about it today. Ever wonder how they did it? Let’s break it down. Interested in designing a flawless production? Let’s chat and amplify your production!
Corporate Conferences

Planning and executing a successful event can be a daunting task, especially when it involves various elements like presenting dynamic content and the staging, lighting, audio, and video to support. One crucial detail that can make or break an event is the preparation of show flows. Show flows are detailed documents that outline the cues for the event elements happening on stage and provide a timeline for the entire stage production(s). Without proper documentation and a clear show flow, even the most well-planned event can suffer from technical mishaps and delays. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of documenting cues and creating a detailed show flow to ensure a flawless performance.

Steps to Create a Flawless Performance

We’ve all had that amazing conference experience where the content left such a lasting impression you still think about it today.  Ever wonder how they did it?  Let’s break it down.

1. Define the goals and objectives: Start by clarifying what you want to achieve, specifically with your content at the event. Are you trying to entertain, educate, promote a product or inspire - or some mix of the above? Understanding the purpose of the content you are including will help you determine the necessary elements and cues for the show flow and how to build the overall design and production.

2. Draft a schedule: Now that you know what you want to achieve with your event content, it’s time to sketch out a schedule. There are several things to consider as you begin to block your production:

  1. Set priorities.  Identify the highest priority content and speakers.  Rank content considering both what is most important to attendees and corporate goals and initiatives.
  2. Block time for keynotes.  Review the entire event schedule, and be sure you’ve allocated the prime timeslots when there are minimal to no distractions for keynote topics and speakers.
  3. Vary the content delivery.  To maximize attendee engagement, it’s recommended to vary how content is presented.  As you create your initial draft, consider what content could work best as a keynote, panel, fireside chat, breakout session or workshop.

3. Assemble the right team: The first step in assembling a team is selecting an Executive Producer.  The Executive Producer is your conductor, the person who keeps your entire show together, flowing and on cue. From here, gather a team of experienced professionals who specialize in each aspect of the production, such as staging, lighting, audio, video, streaming.  A skilled team of experts ensures that each element of your show flow is executed flawlessly.

4. Design the content:  With your schedule ready in draft form, it’s time to think about what will appear on the screen in support of your speakers and your branding goals.  For content, we recommend a cohesive slide design that fits your event theme and design, then review other content formats that can amplify your content, like custom videos, GIFs, motion graphics, animations, hold slides or other elements (i.e. newsclips) to help create maximum impact and engagement.  If you will be recording content, be sure to consider what color palettes film best.

5. Design the stage:  Once you understand the content and generally how you want to deliver it, you can extend the design to include the screen surround, stage, seating, and stage decor.  Consider all areas of the stage (wings, upstage, downstage, apron) in your design, so you can thoughtfully engineer where your audience will focus.  Budget will largely determine how extensive your design can be, so prepare to get creative and consider a range of options that fit the branding needs and budget. 

6. Design the lighting:  Lighting will emphasize everything you’ve designed so far.  Once you have the look and feel of your content and stage close to final, lighting is the final design paintbrush for the experience.  Lighting changes everything and it’s essential to get this right.  With the right lighting design, your presenters will look fabulous, feel confident, present better AND you will have lasting quality content to repurpose after the event.  

7. Add some drama with audio: The final touch is to design audio cues.  Add some drama with walk-on songs, intermission playlists, sound effects, voice of god.  Audio elements add that extra spice and excitement that attendees often don’t consciously notice but can make or break a show.  

8. Create a detailed timeline: Now that you have it all designed, it’s time to break down the event into segments, allocate/finalize specific timeframes for each element and document every single detail on your show flow. This includes content cues, speaker notes, lighting instructions, audio cues and file references, “voice of god” scripts, transition instructions - every single thing that will happen on stage is noted in the show flow.  Having a well-defined timeline ensures that everyone involved is aware of their responsibilities and helps prevent any issues, delays or technical glitches.  The show flow is your ultimate key to success.  Remember, a well-executed show flow can make the difference between a memorable event and a forgettable one. By following these steps, you'll have all the essential tools a detailed show flow needs to ensure a flawless performance.

9. Use collaboration tools: Consider using online collaboration tools to share and update the show flow document with your team. Create a central repository for documents and files needed during the program.  Always have a system for managing version control AND communicating when documents have been updated, you don’t want to be cripled by version control issues.   As the program approaches, real-time communication in one master file ensures seamless collaboration and guarantees everyone is working with the most current version.

10. Schedule rehearsals: You could have everything for your program designed to the nines and documented to perfection, but if you skimp on rehearsals, it can all fall apart in an instant.  Rehearsals are an essential step that should never be missed.  Some elements of rehearsals to consider include speaker comfort on stage, previewing slides and speaker notes, sound checks, practicing transitions, lighting test. Schedule rehearsals with speakers well in advance, and be sure you allow plenty of time for overages and incorporating the inevitable changes to slide decks, speaker notes, and show flows. 

What is in a Show Flow

A show flow is a detailed document that serves as a roadmap for the execution of an event’s stage production, it’s a step-by-step guide that ensures every aspect of the stage production is coordinated seamlessly.  Creating a show flow is an essential step in planning a successful event, without seamless delivery of your content, the entire event can fall flat.  A show flow allows you to seamlessly organize and coordinate the elements happening on your stage(s). 

In a show flow, you will find a breakdown of the event into segments, along with specific instructions for each cue. This includes information such as when the stage lights should change, when certain audio cues should be played, when video screens should switch to specific content, and who is responsible for each element.  Essentially, every single detail about what will happen on stage is documented. 

The purpose of documenting cues and having a detailed show flow is to eliminate any confusion or miscommunication amongst the event production team. It serves as a reference point for everyone involved, ensuring that each element is executed at the right time and in the right manner. This level of precision and organization is what ultimately leads to a flawless performance and unforgettable experience.

Show Flow vs. Script

A show flow and a script are two distinctly different tools. While both are essential tools in event production, they serve different purposes.

A show flow is designed for your back-of-house technical team.  It’s full of technical cues to ensure the technical production comes off without a glitch.  It allows the technical team to operate in full support and synchronicity with the host, MC and speakers.

A script is focused on the content and narrative of the event. It includes the messaging, presentations, Q&A prompts, and performance notes for everything that will take place on stage. A script is geared towards presenters and performers with the purpose of helping them deliver their message, lines and actions accurately.  Typically there will be one dedicated member of the team who has ultimate authority to review content to ensure everything is on message, on brand and fits the overall goals of your event.

While a show flow and a script may have some overlapping elements, it's important to understand that they serve different purposes. The show flow ensures that the technical aspects of the event are executed flawlessly, while the script focuses on the content and performance aspects.

Key Takeaways

1. A detailed show flow is crucial for the successful execution of an event. 

2. Before creating a show flow, define the goals and objectives of your event and draft a schedule. 

3. Assemble a team of professionals who specialize in different aspects of event production. 

4. Create a detailed timeline, breaking down the event into segments and allocating specific timeframes for each element. 

5. Use online collaboration tools to share and update the show flow with your team. 

6. Always make time for rehearsals. 

7. Differentiate between a show flow and a script.

Documenting cues and creating a detailed show flow is crucial for the successful execution of any event. It ensures that all elements, such as staging, lighting, audio, and video, are coordinated seamlessly. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can optimize your event execution and guarantee a flawless performance.

Interested in designing a flawless production?  Let’s chat and amplify your production!