Creating a Run of Show for Virtual Events

Any great production starts with a great run of show (or “ROS” as the cool kids call it). This is the minute-by-minute plan for what is happening during any type of show: what is the timing, who is involved, what we are seeing, what we are hearing, what movements or transitions are taking place, the playback content, etc. A ROS document is useful initially to the Producer to help establish on paper what the program is, to the client for gaining approvals, and for sharing with presenters and talent to know what to expect. 


While the process of creating a ROS is similar for live and virtual events, considerations for a virtual ROS are definitely different. Here are some steps and tips to keep in mind when building your native virtual ROS:


Timing & Duration


  • When it comes to duration for your program you should look to cut your time in half (or more!) in almost any case. If that’s not possible, you may want to consider spreading your content across multiple days / weeks to keep your audience engaged for less time at once. This may also be appealing if your event caters naturally to different segments of viewers, but you prefer not to have simultaneous tracks. 


  • When it comes to selecting a date and time, do so thinking about you audience.  Evenings may be difficult for certain attendee segments, such as working parents. Also as stay at home orders start to relax, guests may have other plans or obligations that conflict with your event. Weekends are gold, and should be scheduled with much caution and only for recreational type programs. Business-related events should really aim to stay 8AM-5PM M-F, and perhaps even avoid Fridays during the summer months. Social or cause driven events may have some more flexibility, and may want to consult their event committees for guidance or even poll their audience. 


The Elements & Content


  • Revisit your existing or most recent ROS if this is a repeat or annual event. If not, many of these prompts will still apply as we start your brainstorm. What have you typically done in the past? What lands the best with your audience? What’s a MUST include for the program, despite the setting? Do you typically have videos? Have you had an emcee, or want an emcee? Are there honorees to be featured, or are you working with high-caliber speakers? Have you had live entertainment or any sort of interactive elements before?


  • If your event is opening up to new audiences by going virtual what might they be most interested in? Do you know the makeup of your audience and their POV on your messaging? If not, it’s always a great idea to ask in this early stage whether your audience is the same or different during this time! 


Streamlining, Order & Flow


  • If you haven’t already, pause here to outline the topline goals of the event. Why are you having this event? What does success look like? Use that as a guide to cull down the list of elements before you get in much deeper. Yes, some things must go in the name of keeping your program streamlined for a virtual audience. Those choices can be tough, political and fraught, we know! Having the goals to guide you will help immensely. 


  • Next, start pencilling in the elements that still remain along with their estimated duration. We have a great template here that you can use! It might help to see initially what your timing is looking like to know what you need to scale back. Once everything is in this format, it’s easy to cut / paste and move around too.


  • You’re going to want to start with a bang! A countdown, a musical moment, a rousing welcome or a kick-off video to let guests settle in and be ready for what comes next. If making introductions to speakers keep them very brief, or consider providing bios outside of the program. If something within your program is a main draw, you could intersperse it throughout the program to keep viewers engaged, or move it closer to the end similarly to how you would IRL. If making an appeal or fundraising ask, you still want to lead into that with something more emotional like a video, live ask, or including a beneficiary of the organization for emphasis on the donor's sense of urgency


  • As you start to hone in on a final ROS, make sure you’re working with a Producer to add cues and visualize the entire program from start to finish. Don’t overlook production value

We would love to help bring you through this process, and to brainstorm unique ideas for your event’s ROS. With some creative thinking your virtual ROS can be very compelling and uniquely made for a virtual audience. Set up a consultation with us, or visit our website to find out more about our virtual event and other services.