Day-of planning

In order to ensure your event runs smoothly and successfully you will need to develop several documents and train your staff. 

Detailed program schedule

A detailed program schedule (also called: event run-down, run sheet or run of show) is a complete chronological sequence of the day’s event tasks. It should include the time and details of set-up, take-down, deliveries, catering, AV, entertainment, security coverage, speakers, program schedule, photography, videography, staff roles and responsibilities, etc.

* Detailed-Program-Schedule-Sample.docx
Download a sample Detailed Program Schedule

Packing list 

A packing list includes an itemized list of the event supplies that you will need on the day of the event. On the packing list identify who is responsible to pack, transport supplies to the event site and pack up following the event. 

* Event-Packing-List-Template.doc
Download a sample Packing List

Guest registration

Onsite registration is the first point of contact when guests arrive and sets the tone for the guest experience for the rest of the event. Organizing the registration desk and flow in an intuitive way will be key in avoiding long lines and confused attendees. There should be plenty of signage that designates a specific area for event registration as well as a logical progression of the registration process. Map out this flow ahead of time and make sure your event staff know where to direct attendees after each step of their registration process.

When planning the guest registration process, consider the following:

  • Plan to have a minimum of one registration staff per 75 guests
  • Have a clearly marked sign indicating where your registration area is or have it positioned in a visible place for easy guest access, such as near the main entrance
  • If you have a large number of guests registered, split the registration area across two tables, one for last name A-L and the other for M-Z, or more groups if the event is very large
  • If you are tracking guest attendance, have a sign-in sheet to track unexpected guest attendance
  • If the event is paid, have a way to safely collect credit card information for unexpected guests
  • Depending on the event, items to create in advance and hand out at registration include (as applicable):
    • Nametags 
    • Dietary restriction cards 
    • Centerpiece cards – if you are giving away centerpieces at the end of the night, this will allow select guests to take one home 
    • Table cards to indicate where guests are seated
  • Consider using Eventbrite for onsite digital check-in
  • Have a plan in place to resolve issues or concerns that might come up such as where to send unexpected media or how to deal with upset guests, etc.

Back to top

Event staff and volunteers

To run a successful event, you will need a team of trained staff and/or volunteers to help with the onsite event delivery and logistics. Before you arrive onsite, create specific roles for each of your team members and brief your team on their roles. These roles could include AV, registration desk, catering, venue set-up and take-down, entertainment, photography/videography, speakers, sponsors and VIPs.

Schedule time to check in with staff and volunteers during the event and be sure to schedule breaks for your event team. 

Student ambassadors

Student ambassadors can be a great addition to an event. They help elevate the guest experience by mingling with the guests and informally sharing with them their experience as an SFU student. Students will also benefit by developing their networking skills and building their professional network. It may be helpful to provide special t-shirts, badges or other identifiers for your student ambassadors so they are recognizable. 

Contact the Student Ambassador and Passport to Leadership Program for more information on how to recruit student ambassadors.

Staff, faculty and alumni volunteers

For large events, you may wish to call on staff, faculty and/or alumni volunteers to support the onsite event delivery. Seek assistance from your colleagues, or for larger events consider putting a 'call for volunteers' announcement. Contact Alumni Relations at for support coordinating alumni volunteers.

Training event staff and volunteers

When guests walk through the door to your event, it’s your staff and volunteers who will ensure that they feel welcomed and experience the event as you’ve planned and envisioned it. To ensure your staff and volunteers are trained and prepared:

  • Schedule your staff and volunteers one to two weeks prior to the event
  • Schedule a pre-event briefing to review the event program and roles/responsibilities 
  • Hold an onsite event briefing to touch base before guests arrive

Schedule a debrief meeting a few days following the event to collect feedback on what went well, challenges, areas for improvement and ideas for future events.

Volunteer appreciation

Taking the time to recognize and thank volunteers is important to ensure they feel valued for giving their time, and it helps with volunteer retention. A few ideas to show volunteer appreciation include: 

  • Providing food for the volunteers onsite at the event
  • Sending a letter of thanks after the event
  • Giving a coffee gift card or other gift
  • Organizing a volunteer appreciation event
  • Having the president or chancellor take a photo with the volunteers 
  • Sharing volunteer photos from the event
  • Writing a letter of recommendation

Back to top

University event protocol

It is important that university event protocol is followed when Canadian and International dignitaries attend your events. Ceremonies and Events (C&E) is available for guidance and advice regarding these protocols. Please contact the Director, Ceremonies and Events at or 778-782-4643 for more information. 

Back to top