The Program Resume: Your Guide to the 127, 684 Things You Need to Know

Program resume. Program guide. Event script. Show flow. Event guide. Meeting report. Event bible.

What Is It, and What’s In It?

Whatever you call it, your program resume is the single most valuable document to you and everyone involved in creating the event.  It is the central repository for every last detail that anyone could possibly ever need to know about the event and it is the document that will keep everyone on the same page and eliminate any surprises.

In our world, the resume includes a minute-by-minute schedule that goes far beyond just the official meeting agenda, all contractual obligations, contact information for everyone involved in the program, a VIP list, sketches and diagrams, FAQs about the program, addresses and directions to and from any program venue, etc.  Our goal is that anything we could possibly need to effectively run the program is contained in this document.

Who Is Included In It, and Who Receives It?

Everyone is included.  That’s the beauty of a complete program resume – everyone involved in the program knows what to expect, when to expect it, and who is in charge of it. 

In terms of distribution, that usually becomes slightly more complex.  We create different levels of a program resume for different audiences:

  1. Master – the master copy includes EVERYTHING, and often some level of confidential or sensitive information (i.e. high-profile attendee travel arrangements, sensitive special requests, cash handling procedures, security arrangements, etc).  This version is usually only used by the planner, 1 key staff person, and our main client contact.
  2. General staff – we eliminate any confidential information for our general staff.
  3. Vendors – the confidential information is again eliminated, along with any details that a vendor doesn’t necessarily need (i.e. hospitality desk FAQs).
  4. Executives – the executive staff attending the program will receive the most concise version of the resume that typically includes key contact information and the detailed schedule.  

When Should It Be Started?

The program resume starts at the instant you start planning the event.  It should be the first file you create as soon as you start working on it.  We have an ever-evolving, all-encompassing template that we use so we aren’t starting from scratch each time.  Using this template also ensures that we are incorporating all of our best practices and lessons learned at previous events.  

Why Spend Some Much Time On a Resume?

Why create a program agenda? A meeting planner is only one person and there are typically many people involved in a program that need to know most of the same information as the planner.  The resume becomes the mechanism by which the planner can transfer all of the knowledge in his or her head to paper and share that knowledge with the rest of the team.  It also provides the framework to walk through the program with every stakeholder to ensure that no detail was overlooked and that the process of taking the event from paper to reality is as smooth and glitch-free as possible.

Your Turn:

What is the single most important item in your program resumes?