Helpful Tips for Planning Your Event
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Creating a Successful Event Run of Show

This article will provide you with specific questions to consider when putting together a run of show/timeline for your event. Hint: the more details the better!

Often called the “run of show” or “timeline”, the order or sequence and timing of your event is important to plan out.   Start with your venue rental agreement. Review when you will have access to and when you must be out of the venue. Use these start and end times as "bookends" for your timeline.  

From this, you should create a "run of show" (ROS) that represents a chronological list of what will happen at your event:  


Here are some important considerations for your "run of show" (ROS):

  1. Be as detailed as possible. Note when things will start and stop.  However, you should anticipate and accommodate for things to possibly run long.  
  2. Allow for unexpected situations: your speakers running over, your guests arriving late, your live auction taking longer than expected.
  3. Run through your plan a few times with your entire team. Can guests migrate from one element to another in time?  Can your team finish the live auction and appeal entries and also setup the checkout area before guests line up?

For each element of your event schedule, here are some general tips and comments: 


  • How much time do you have to set up your event?  
  • Can you set up your auction area the night before or only the day of?   
  • Who will be helping with setup - staff, volunteers, the venue?  Make sure they arrive on time.
  • It is better to have TOO MANY volunteers or staff for setup than TOO LITTLE.  You have a limited time frame to set up, don’t be left short-handed.
  • All of your auction item display sheets, descriptions, signs, displays, etc. should all be done prior to arriving at the event. If there are last minute changes on items, be sure you have access to a printer at the venue.
  • When will the caterers arrive? What are they responsible for doing and not doing?
  • Who will help with table set up and decorations?
  • Where will the silent auction area be set up?  Who will be responsible for setting up the tables, supplying table cloths, etc. 
  • Touch base with AV/IT for your program and any visual displays on a large screen (Handbid TV, or live video feed)


  • Where is your registration area?
  • Will you have access to power in the registration area?
  • Are you going to have registration staff sitting or standing for registration?
  • Who will work registration? Volunteers, staff, Handbid staff (if hired)? 
    • How many staff/volunteers will you need? We recommend 50 guests per check-in staff/volunteer. (Example: 250 guests = 5 check-in staff/volunteers)
    • Will Handbid be managing registration?
    • Have you assigned and trained volunteers for check-in?
    • Will you have a volunteer to control guest traffic and keep lines moving (if any)?
  • What information do you want to collect at registration?
    • Name, email and phone for mobile bidding?
    • Credit card on file to bid?
    • Address information?
  • What information will you be supplying at registration?
    • Paddle number (written on program or on a specific bidder card?)
    • Table assignment
    • A program
  • What time will you close registration ?
    • When do you expect people to arrive? Are people leaving from work, or is it the weekend?
    • How many people do you plan on checking in?
    • When do you want registration to be complete? 


After registration, where will people go?  

  • How many bars will you have open? (if you are providing drinks or alcohol)
  • How long are you giving people to bid before food or the program starts?
  • How close will the silent auction area be from the food/program?
  • How long will you keep your silent auction open?


How are you planning to serve food? Sit down? Passed hors d'oeuvres? Buffet stations?  Your choice will determine how much time you need.

  • A seated dinner is fancier, but takes longer.
  • Buffet stations can mean a lot of waiting in line to get food.
  • Passed hors d'oeuvres? You will still need tables or high top cocktail tables for people to place their drinks and food on.


What is your plan for the program? Who will speak?  Will there be slides? How long will it run? All of these are important considerations, especially as they pertain to your schedule and auction.

  • When will the program start?
  • What are people transitioning from when it starts? Have they been sitting and eating at a sit down meal? Are they coming in from the buffet line with their food?
  • How many speakers and how long will each one speak?
  • Will you have a video or onstage presentation?
  • Are you giving out an award or having someone on stage?
  • Will your stage accommodate the speakers?
  • Make sure you plan for 20 min or more to accommodate a long speaker or any other delay in the program.
  • What will happen immediately after your program?  


Your live auctioneer will now take the stage to start your live auction and appeal.  Some things you need to consider are:

  • What will you do first? The live auction or appeal?  Discuss this with your live auctioneer for advice.
  • How many live auction items will you have?  Estimate that each live auction item will take 2-3 minutes.  If you plan on having 10 live items, expect your live auction to take approximately 30 minutes.
  • Should you do an appeal? How many appeal levels do you have? Discuss this with your auctioneer.
  • Who will be recording the live and appeals in Handbid?  How much time will you give them to do this before the auction closes and checkout begins?


When do you want to close your auction?  You can't close your silent auction while still entering live auction winners.   Please consider the following:

  • There is no value in closing your silent auction early.  Live auction bidders are rarely waiting to see what they won first in the silent auction before they bid in the Live auction. Keep your silent auction open as LONG AS POSSIBLE.
  • Use the Handbid countdown timer to close your silent auction. This is an important element and will drive additional bidding. Skipping the timer will limit your revenue.
  • Give yourself enough time to organize your checkout area prior to checkout.  Mobile bidding will allow bidders to see what they won and pay their invoices from their mobile devices.  This should reduce the rush to the checkout area by bidders who merely want to know if they won anything.
  • Give bidders at least 30 min to checkout after the auction closes before you must start vacating the space.  (i.e. Don’t start checkout 15 min before your venue wants you out the door).   


We always suggest an hour to do clean up. If you are running on schedule, this should be plenty of time. Typically you will be able to assess how long it will take based on how many staff/volunteers you have scheduled to help and how many items you're taking back with you from those who didn't make it to check-out.


This list of considerations related to your event will give you a detailed schedule regarding your ROS. Remember to be specific about details for a successful auction.