Managing your next event crisis

David Lane


Managing your next event crisis

No matter how organised you are or how much blood, sweat and tears you put into an event, there’s always a chance something can go wrong. But there’s no need to panic and accept defeat, because with a backup plan for all of the potentially disastrous things that could dampen your day, you will be adequately armed to turn things around in no time. Running a successful event is all about being prepared, flexible, adaptive and having a positive mindset. Here are some common event disasters and tips on how you can manage them.

Technical issues

The crisis - Probably the most common issue that event organisers have to deal with, when technology doesn’t do what we want it to. We’ve got a whole load of technology at our fingertips, but unfortunately we can become a little reliant on it. The main thing you need to remember when it comes to using technology at event, is that it is never completely reliable, and you always need a backup.

The solution - In order to do your best to avoid things malfunctioning, make sure you do all the necessary checks beforehand. Like checking all the microphones and making sure all your speaker’s presentations can be accessed on the day. It’s not just about checking four weeks in advance of your event, but also on the actual day. Have backups ready should things falter, such as additional microphones or alternative ways to display information. Alternatively, simply give us a call and our Blitz team will take care of it all for you.

Key staff members or speakers not turning up

The crisis - It’s not ideal when a senior member of your events team is ill or a speaker just doesn’t bother to turn up. But you need to anticipate these things happening. There’s always a chance that someone might fall ill, or have a crisis and not be able to get to your event.

The solution - Make sure you have other members of staff that can step in. Consider training a few people to do the most important jobs, rather than just one person. Your speakers might also let you down, and when attendees have come especially to see them, it can pose a problem. Always keep people in the loop as to what’s going on and be honest with your attendees if you know a speaker is going to be a no show. If possible, have something else to offer them instead. It’s a good idea to get a pre-recording of your keynote speakers which you can play to your audience should they get cold feet.

Not having key equipment

The crisis - You turn up to your event raring to go, only to find you don’t have a key piece of equipment that you need. Like a laptop with all your information on it, a projector for presentations or a product that you wanted to showcase.

The solution - In terms of having the information you need to run the day smoothly, it’s essential that you have it backed up somewhere. Save documents and plans on the Cloud and via platforms that you can access anytime, anywhere.

Have a checklist of all the key equipment you need and make sure you run through it the day before, highlighting the most important bits of equipment that are crucial for your event. If you do end up forgetting something, think on your feet, is there anything else you can use instead? Can you get a member of staff to go and get what you need while you oversee the event?

Timings overrunning

The crisis - It’s actually quite normal for events to overrun, but that doesn’t make it OK. If you have provided your attendees with specific timings, you should do your best to stick to them, or people will get frustrated, or worse, simply leave because they have to be elsewhere.

The solution - You need to be really strict with your timings on the day. If a speaker is overrunning, you have to get them to wrap their talk up. Make sure all speakers know in advance of your event that if they go over their allotted time you will have to cut them short. Don’t underestimate how much time it takes for certain things to be done, and allow plenty of time within your schedule so that you aren’t running around like a headless chicken. An event that feels rushed won’t go down very well, so take the time to plan everything very carefully and make sure you have enough staff to run everything properly.

Awkward speaker moments

The crisis - When your speaker says something inappropriate, or puts the room to sleep. They might swear, go way off topic or pitch a certain viewpoint far too aggressively. This results in unhappy and irritated attendees, and probably a fair amount of negative comments on social media.

The solution - Obviously the best thing you can do is vet your speaker’s talks before the event, and choose your speakers and event staff wisely. You can also provide them with as much information as you can about the kind of audience they are presenting to, so they can tailor their speech or presentation accordingly. However, they might still go off topic regardless of your best intentions. If this happens, you may need to take action, depending on how badly they mess up. You might want to interrupt them, or let them carry on and issue an apology afterwards.

Last minute venue issue

The crisis - It’s very possible that something might go wrong with your venue, through no fault of your own. There could be an internal problem with the building, or weather damage. Either way, if you are left with no venue then you’ve got a major event crisis to solve.

The solution - It’s always handy to have a few backup venues in mind, just in case your venue can’t accommodate you and gives you enough notice to rearrange. If you do have to end up cancelling your event, and you haven’t got people’s details, you will have no way of letting everyone know. Make sure you store all your prospective attendee details so that you can simply drop them an email if your event needs to be postponed through no fault of your own. Or, simply make sure you use an event partner (like us) to have your back and get your show back on the road.

Transport issues

The crisis - There’s an accident on the motorway and half your event attendees and possibly even some of your staff are stuck. Or, there could be a rail strike and no trains running. This can really derail an event, and it happens more often than you might think. It’s definitely something that’s worth considering in advance of your event.

The solution - Make sure your event attendees have all the travel directions and instructions they need. Include how to get to your venue by train and car, so that people have options. You might want to get key staff to stay over near your event the night before, or simply ensure all staff leave plenty of time to get to your event. Keep an eye on traffic updates and alert staff if any major issues arrive so they can leave even earlier.


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