It would be great if corporate events always went off without a hitch — no surprises, no problems, no worries. Of course, that’s not realistic, so the next best thing is to be ready to handle any event problems that come up. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re ready to tackle event issues like a pro.
Have Backup Plans for your Backup Plans
The best time to think about all of the things that could go wrong at the event is during the early planning stages. Never make assumptions; double-check every detail. And don’t just think these things through — write them down. The first benefit of doing this is that you can see the big picture, spot any potential issues that are inadvertently built into the preliminary plans, and eliminate them before they ever see the light of day.
Then, carefully examine all of the details of your plan to identify any areas where problems (or outright crises) could arise. Wherever there is the potential for something to go wrong, create a backup plan. For example, no matter how sunny and dry the location you’ve selected for your event, if you’ve planned an outdoor activity, always be prepared in case it rains. Being proactive rather than reactive gives you and your stakeholders peace of mind that you’ve thought of everything and are taking every step possible to ensure that your event is successful and flawlessly executed.
For the areas that would wreak the most havoc on event day — true event disasters that could ruin everything — you might even want to assess whether it is worth the effort to have a backup plan for your backup plan.
As much as we would like to be able to control every detail, the key to successful event management is effective delegation. You can’t be everywhere at once, so you can’t execute an entire conference, meeting, or offsite with only one set of hands. The best way to avert event disasters is to surround yourself with a competent team.
Enlist reliable people, and make sure to assign them to roles that play to their strengths. Never assume that they understand and are comfortable with their responsibilities for the day. Instead, provide thorough training, equip them with all of the tools and supplies they need to execute their duties, and give them time to ask questions and get clarification.
Create an Emergency Contact List
In the event of an event issue, the last thing anyone wants to do is skim through emails or texts to find contact details. Save yourself the headache and moments of panic by creating an emergency contact list before the event starts. Include the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of everyone on site, as well as the details for vendors and anyone else you may need to get in touch with at a moment’s notice. That way you can contact anyone you need to before a problem becomes a full-on crisis.
Have Your Contingency Plans Accessible
Once you have backup plans and a contact list, it is important that everyone can find them on event day. Put a physical copy in your command center, and have an electronic version available to everyone.
Then, make sure your team is aware of the plans and where to find them! Making everyone aware that you’re ready for anything will ensure they are able to pitch in and help you handle any problem, and also give them the confidence that the team is as prepared as possible.
Don’t Panic — Step Up as Leader
No matter how prepared you are, crisis moments can get out of control — and fast. If a crisis does arise at your event, don’t hesitate — step up, take control of the situation, and act as leader. Don’t panic; you’ve prepared for this! Whether the problem is one you’ve specifically planned for or not, in front of attendees, pretend it’s no big deal. Then behind the scenes, do your best to stay calm and logical, and find a way to solve the problem without impacting the attendee experience.
Corporate events are complex to execute, with a lot going on and many moving parts. It’s unlikely that you will be able to prevent every possible issue, but with some careful preparation and contingency planning, you can be confident and ready to resolve them quickly while minimizing their impact on your event. If you can do that, most of your attendees won’t even know there had been a hiccup.