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Listen up event aficionados, because we’re about to break down your event schedule! Here at Endless, we’ve covered topics related to the timing of your events. And that’s because everyone knows exactly how much of a peril it is when your event drags on! You’ve spent weeks, and sometimes even months, planning everything from A to Z. You know exactly how you everything should go, what everyone should do, and in which time slots.

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However, things don’t always go as planned! It’s way too common for your event to fo overtime and completely ruin your event schedule. And while it might seem that there’s simply nothing you can do from keeping this from happening, fear not. Because this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday is here to help, courtesy of our host Will Curran. Join him as he walks through everything you need to keep your event from going overtime and stay faithful to your event schedule. Press play and let’s get to it!

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Video Transcription – How To Keep Your Event From Going Overtime

Hey, what’s going on everybody? We’re back at it again. And probably one of the number one issues that we see on site when it comes to events is events going over time. Don’t we all hate it when the stage ends up running longer than it’s supposed to? And things just get a little bit out of control. So I wanted to provide some tactical tips for how you can make your event run a little bit smoother. And making sure that you can keep your event from going overtime. Save you on costs, save your attendees from pulling out their hairs. Let’s jump on into it!

The Secret To A Smooth Event Schedule

I want to give away the secret from the beginning. What is the number one reason that we see as an AV event production company that events go over time? That stages go over time. And that number one reason is presenters who are inexperienced. I know. Wow. It seems kind of obvious. But believe it not, every single time that we do events and we see that someone is going to go over time, and the presentation goes longer and longer, no matter even if we do almost all the stuff I’m about to share with you, the reason why they end up going over time is because of inexperienced presenters.

I mentioned it a little bit in past videos before, but presenters who are experienced know the pace of their own presentation. To be honest, they don’t need things like timers and DSMs and things like that because they have their presentation down pat. We’ve seen it before, where we take presenters and we think they’re going to go overtime because they’re taking forever. They end up exactly pacing their talks perfectly on time if they’re experienced.

So if you find that your event is constantly going over time, probably the number one reason is because of inexperienced speakers. But we know that’s not always the choice. Sometimes you have to have put the CEO up or you have to put you know, x, y, z person up. Or you have a very long awards show. So we’re going to give some tactical tips for how you can keep your event going on time.

The Tips For The Perfect Event Schedule

Stage Timer 

Let’s start off with the first one. This one’s kind of the obvious one everyone wants to jump on is having a stage timer. Put the stage timer right down at the downstage edge of your stage and be able to make sure that someone is in charge of controlling the stage timer. Usually one of these other people that we’re going to talk about in a little bit, but have someone control the timer. Somebody who can set the schedule and put how much time on there.

I highly recommend, as well, is to put a little bit less time than you actually need. So for example, if they have 60 minutes, put 55 minutes on there as well. That allows them to know that hey, they need to start wrapping up. And then that way too, if you end up going over time, you still have that little five-minute buffer as well. Cool, right? Wouldn’t it be great if you actually ended early too? Heck yeah, so recommendations for stage timers and why they’re great. Not only do they allow the presenter to see the time left, but you can also do things like making the light flash at them. But also, as well, you can also change this timer remotely from the back of the stage.

For example, if you find that some content is drawing on and the presenter’s just not as lively as you thought they were and you want to cut down on their time, you can do that remotely from the stage as well. So make sure that you have that stage timer, at a minimum, it’s a very inexpensive rental. It’ll cost you like a hundred bucks to be able to rent, and that can help keep your event on time.

Stage Manager For A Smooth Event Schedule

The next thing that I recommend that you do is have a stage manager. Stage manager’s sole job is to make sure that between presentations, between things going on stage, that it all is running really, really smooth. This person’s in charge of tracking down talent, making sure that they’re at the edge of the stage, making sure that they’re ready to go. One of the big reasons why we see events sometimes get drawn out a little bit further is because presenters aren’t ready at the edge of the stage. They don’t have the clicker, they’re not mic’d up.

A stage manager will make sure that runs perfectly. They make sure that they’re queued up, and the person’s on the edge of the stage, and that they’re communicating with the rest of the event production team to make sure that when they say go and that next presentation goes up, they’re ready to go. A lot of times stage managers can run the timer. But we also see having a show caller as well, which we’ve talked about in past episodes, can sometimes control those stage timers as well.

So stage manager, super-duper helpful in making sure that everything runs on time. Also what you’ll find too is if you have any sort of crazy turnovers, for example, you have to reset to put chairs on stage or you need to be able to change the stage in any sort of way, the stage manager’s going to be in charge of that as well. They’re going to grab people to be able to move the furniture and make sure it’s moving on and off stage. Versus presentation gets done, “Oh cool, we have to go do this,” and then someone has to run from across the room, “Oh no.” The stage manager is key. Get that person on some comms and let’s let them manage the stage.


All right, another thing that can be helpful when it comes to people is an MC. And the reason why an MC can be really, really helpful for making sure that the event runs smoothly on time, is that sometimes when the event isn’t ready to go on time, you want to have an MC who can create some buffer. I’ve seen some great MCs in my days. And I find that they can really control the audience, keep them energized, and keep the event moving the entire time.

What’s great about an MC, as well, is that if you need to save on time, and rush things, and get it going a little bit faster, they can sometimes tighten up their script. They can introduce a little bit faster, that sort of thing. Also, as well, is that if you have a presenter who is ignoring the stage timer, ignoring the stage manager, the MC can come on stage and it’s not awkward to be able to make that transition.

I’ve seen it a couple of different times. Probably once a year, where a presentation will go a little bit longer than expected, and by a little bit it’s going really long. Well, what you can do is you can send the MC on stage and you can stand at the edge of the back of the stage. That’s a pretty good indicator for the presenter to be able to get off the stage, wrap up, and continue moving on without it being awkward. And having the stage manager who no one knows to get on stage as well. So an MC can be incredibly helpful for making sure that your event runs on time and smoothly as well.

A Buffer For Your Event Schedule

All right. The last thing when it comes to making sure that the event runs on time might be obvious. But I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve seen show flows, and scripts, and run of shows put together that do not have this. And that is a buffer in between presentations. For example, if you are planning on doing five presentations an hour-long, do not plan for it to be done in five hours. Plan for there to be five minutes, maybe seven minutes, in between each presentation. The reason why is that if you do not put this buffer in here, if someone runs overtime for any reason during that hour-long gap, you’re already eating into the next presentation.

Well, that person, again, if they’re an experienced presenter will take up the next hour. And then before you know it, you’re going to be way over time. So make sure that you put those buffers in. Also, as well, gives that transition for an emcee to get on stage, for a stage manager to switch up the stage, for you to set that stage timer and to get ready for the next presentation.

It also means that you aren’t going to have to do things like making sure all your presenters are queued up beforehand. It just allows your event to run a little bit smoother. And when you put that buffer on time, it allows you to eat up that buffer as well. Another kind of pro tip that I have when it comes to presentations and making sure things go really well, is that if you be a little bit flexible in how things are going, that’s where a stage manager is really great. Great show caller, great technical director, will help make sure everything runs really smoothly.

Event Schedule Timing

For example, I also recommend don’t put the specific times when people are talking. Also because this forces people to kind of pick and choose when they’re coming in and out of sessions exactly. So, for example, I recommend instead time it out in chunks. For example, if you’re going to put a break and coffee, put the break when the break’s going to happen. But don’t put every single presenter’s time on there because then it means that the presentation, if for example, you end up getting done super duper early and you’re like, “Oh well, we’re just, we don’t want to create a bigger long buffer.” Well, people might end up showing late, all those different things like that.

So instead I recommend to write it out. For example, the first chunk of the talk starts at 9:00 AM. There’s going to be a break at 10:30 that resumes again at 10:40. Then that next section resumes from 10:40 to 12:00. Then lunch from there. Versus first talk is at 9:00, the second talk is at 10:00, the third talk is at 10:15. Things like that as well.

That will also keep you from allowing to be a little bit more flexible in your schedule. Because we also know that sometimes presenters don’t show up. It allows you to have a little bit more flexibility when it comes to moving things around.


All right, that’s a bunch of tips altogether for how to make your event run a little bit better on time and respect your event schedule! But the number one thing you can do is get good presenters so then that way you can stick on time and they don’t run over. But the rest of these things are going to be really helpful for you for helping make sure that your event runs on time.

If you really liked this content, you know what to do, smash that subscribe button, ring the bell, and stay tuned for more Whiteboard Wednesdays!

Resources For A Perfect Event Schedule:

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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