The "Programme" is the schedule of activities from the start of the event to its conclusion. For a sport event, the programme governs which competitors participate at what time. For a conference, the programme stipulates the times of lectures and workshops, what topics are offered and who is presenting. If the event is the annual awards dinner, the programme sets out what time people should arrive, what time each course will be served and the times that each award ceremony will take place. The programme is therefore perhaps the central organising component of the event.
Keeping to times as advertised on the programme is a key performance measure from the standpoint of the participant's satisfaction. An event that fails to run on time will inevitably cause complaints from participants and frustration on the part of all persons. People can be very adversely affected if the event runs overtime and obviously commencing before the advertised time is definitely NOT something to ever contemplate.
In setting the programme, event organisers need to estimate as accurately as possible the time that each and every activity in the programme will take. Furthermore, it is necessary to include in this calculations a time interval between each activity. This time interval is very important. There is usually always a need to move people and equipment, allow for introductions and thank-you's , make announcements and allow time for refreshments to be served and toilet breaks. Preparing the official programme will inevitably require someone to make many computations with calculator or spreadsheet. The draft programme produced is likely to changed and amendment many times before it is ready for publication.
The important factors to consider in preparing the official programme are:
Ceremonial aspects of events should not be underestimated in importance. They include opening and closing speeches, musical fanfares, playing of national anthems, presentation of awards and flowers, visits from dignitaries, flag raising, and special displays.
While not a necessary component, there is an increasing trend to add ceremonial activities to the event programme. They add greatly to the emotion, symbolism and entertainment value of the event. The inclusion of ceremonial activities is more common where events are of national importance, are televised and have major sponsors. Nevertheless adding a little ceremony to the event programme, which often costs very little, should be considered for smaller events. A failure to include ceremonial activities is an opportunity lost for the organisation hosting the event.
Some points to consider in adding ceremony to the event programme are: