Having recently suffered through a VIP speaking into the reading lamp at the podium rather than the microphone, I now am certain: no conference is ever going to be perfect!
No matter how many lessons you think you have learned, you will not succeed with your mission for perfection. Each event is unique, and thus poses new challenges. Event Managers, let’s concede: Mishaps are part of the job!
As the ‘go to’ person for organizing events, you know that excelling in this role is not only about avoiding said tricky situations. It’s rather about being prepared for the worst-case scenarios. And the decisions made once the inevitable occurs. Your ability to exhibit creativity, maintain a sense of humor, think outside the box, keep a cool head in tricky situations, and an open mind when it counts most, will make or break your event.
But rest assured: As bad as it may seem to you, about 80% of your event’s hooplas – in my experience – are not noticed by your guests. And if they are, they are quickly forgotten again. It’s only you and your team who know what the ideal would have looked like. Accepting that some things can’t be changed, and learning how to make the best of every situation, will be your winning strategy while in the event management profession.
Now, lets pick a few situations in which a negative outcome was avoided, by following some of these ‘lessons learned’:
- Have back-ups, and even more back-ups – technical equipment is and will stay unpredictable:
Picture this: the intro film is coming to an end at an award show. The host makes his way up to stage. Just before he reaches center-stage, the screen behind him goes black. The sound stops. After a few moments, I hear the technician’s verdict addressed to me “the computer is dead.” While the host continues on with his introductory words, out comes the back-up laptop. Naturally, with the entire evening’s files already organized on the desktop. Phew, despite a two-minute delay – crisis averted! [All without having to touch the back-up USB stick, and DVD.]
- Always work with experienced professionals:
Your mind goes blank for a split second: Is your VIP really speaking into the reading lamp at the podium? Why did he pull up the lamp, rather than the microphone tested merely minutes prior? Well, no time to dwell. Rather, keep a clear mind, and call upon the A/V professional to showcase his skills. Knowing the system’s limitations, he manages to crank up the volume on the dismissed mike. Yes! Every word is audible! And thanks to the skill of the technician, all was done without being noticed by our guests. Evening saved!
- Don’t hesitate to rely on old fashioned methods:
“Thanks for preparing these,” were the first words I heard from the limo-bus driver. – After delivering the delegation on time to kick-off our conference. Having gotten stranded in rural Virginia without any signal for the navigation system, the map, and printout of directions he was laughing about earlier in the day sure turned out handy. Yes, it’s the old fashioned way. Nevertheless: Mission accomplished!
- Have stakeholders’ contact info on hand at all times, no matter what:
Be it your team members, contractors, speakers, VIPs, or support staff. Never attempt to manage an event without the certainty you can contact either of them at a moment’s notice. Keep your cheat sheet close by. You’ll be thankful you do. One phone call, and your missing panelist can be ‘rescued’ from his stroll in the nearby park. Don’t we all get turned around every now and then?
Being prepared, and acting fast is what counts in tricky situations. At the end of the day, all you want to say is “Problem solved!” These two words, and a successful event are what give me this fuzzy feeling inside … and makes me love my job!
Fellow event managers, you better accept it too: everything may run near-perfect, but THE perfect event does not exist!!!
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This post was also published at Social Tables