When planning an event it is an industry standard to create a critical path to help keep you on track and meet the deadlines, but what about the day of your event? What happens then? You are often thrown in every direction the day of the event, whether it be troubleshooting at registration, accommodating for last minute dietary requests or any other issues that may arise.

To make sure your event is executed with ease create a day of event timeline. I find this really helps to keep me on track with the day, as there is always something that comes up on site that can distract you.

This type of document is similar to your critical path, but is broken down to be more specific and is a constant work in progress leading up to the event.

Below is a sample of what it could look like:

Start End Task
8:00 am 5:00 pm Floral delivery
8:00 am 8:30 am Cookies delivery
8:00 am Staff arrives
9:00 am Staff arrives
9:00 am 5:00 pm Décor set up – add details of décor set up
10:00 am 10:00 pm Volunteers arrive- Assign tasks
10:00 am 10:30 am Crew coffee break
12:00 pm 12:30 pm DJ set up/ Sound check- ensure she has power
12:00 pm 12:30 pm Crew lunch
12:00 pm 1:00 am Staff arrives
1:50 pm Staff to greet entertainment

It could include the time (start and end), task and person responsible. You really want to make sure that you have all the small details included, as those are the details that can easily be forgotten the day of the event. Some examples of what to include on your event timeline are:

  • Staff arrival/departure times
  • Vendor set up or deliveries
  • Volunteer arrival/departures
  • Breaks
  • Set up details
  • Speaker/entertainment arrival times
  • Rehearsals
  • Meetings

Once you have everything that needs to be accomplished on the day written down you still need to manage the timeline, just like you would your critical path.

Some tips for managing your day of timeline:

  • Share the plan with your team. Although we may be the primary planner of an event, we are never really a one person show. We rely on the support of those around to make every event a success, so be sure to share the timeline with your team and make them aware of items that will affect them. This is where it becomes important to include the details in your event timeline. For example, if your flowers are being delivered and they require payment onsite that would be something to include for your team to take care of if you are busy.
  • The Domino Effect. We are all familiar with the domino effect, one things collapses and then everything else collapses that is connected to it. Keep a close eye on tasks within your timeline that have an effect on one another. For example, if your decorator arrives one hour late that will affect the placement of the flowers on the tables or the setting of dishware. Either work to make up the time or inform those who are affected of the changes as soon as they happen. This is important because you can quickly lose control.
  • Walk Through the Day in Chronological Order in Advance. It’s amazing what details reveal themselves as you and your team walk through the day in chronological order step-by-detailed-step. It’s a great way to create your event timeline.

Using the day of event timeline will greatly benefit the execution of your event. Find a template that works for you and put it into action for your next event!