If you’ve ever done events you KNOW some things will not go as planned. But that’s ok! Being a good event planner means being flexible and quick on your feet to come up with a solution. Here are some suggestions from my past experiences on how to keep your cool when your event goes wrong.
Accept that things will go off plan. . . and that’s okay.
You can spend weeks and months planning out every last detail, but once the event starts there are so many factors in play that are out of your control. Go into each event with the mindset that once on site you go from the event planner to the problem solver. Being ready and willing to tackle last-minute challenges will help you stay calm when things do come up. No one plans for a missing vendor or rouge speaker, but being ready to handle them makes all the difference.
Don’t let others see you sweat.
Even if you’re screaming inside your head, don’t let your client, vendors, or attendees see. Staying composed will stop others from panicking and will even help yourself stay calm and focused.
Take a moment to evaluate your resources.
Take a minute to think through your available resources. If the badge vendor didn’t send enough badges, is there a FedEx Print Center you can call to see if they can do a quick print? If a sudden storm is knocking down your outdoor signage, is there a volunteer who can help you pick them up? Taking a moment to think through your nearby resources will help you figure out a Plan B that works. It’s better to take a moment to think through your options than come up with a Plan B that fails.
Think big picture.
No one likes when things don’t go according to plan (especially type A event planners). But keep in mind the big picture and what the event is really about. Maybe the caterer brought the wrong food, but will that stop attendees from hearing your keynote speaker? When handling an issue always ask yourself how this will impact the event. If the caterer brought the wrong hors-d’oeuvres, chances are you can end up getting a discount and your attendees won’t know the difference.
However, it’s also important to know when an issue will impact the big picture. When something major does come up it’s a good idea to loop in key stakeholders, like your client. Tell them what went wrong, what it will impact, and how you plan on fixing it. Even if you’re still working on the solution, it’s better your client hear from you that you’re on top of things than discovering the problem and panicking.
Know when you need help.
As an event planner, you’ll want to jump in and handle the situation yourself. However, it’s important to know when to call in help. If the situation is becoming dangerous or you’re worried someone might get hurt, it’s better to be safe than sorry and call 911.
The last thing you want to do onsite is report to your boss that there’s an issue you can’t handle. But pulling in help early on can help you tackle situations before they’re out of control. The best event planners leave their egos at the door and know when to ask for help.
Remember, you’re the only one who knows what was supposed to happen.
If the plan changes, it might only be a big deal to you. If a speaker drops out last minute, ask the speakers that were supposed to go on before or after them if they’d extend their session into a Q&A. Instead of attendees being disappointed by a missing speaker, they’ll be pleased to have time to ask questions.
I had a dance teacher who would say “If you mess up on stage just roll with it and keep smiling. The audience doesn’t know the routine, only you do.” That same idea works with events. You’re the only one who knows that production timeline like the back of their hand. As long as you find a Plan B and keep your cool, no one will know that you missed Plan A.
I hope these tips keep you calm, cool, and collected when things go wrong. If you liked this post, you may want to check out 16 Moments Every Event Planner Can Relate To for a good laugh!
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