How to Handle Worst-Case Scenarios at Your Event

When it comes to pulling off any event, there are always a million balls that need to be kept in the air at all times. There are people that need coordinating with, vendors that need to arrive on time, and more than one volunteer that needs to know where to go and when.

In the weeks and months leading up to go time, so much planning and thought goes into each and every one of these details so that they can go right, that it is terrifying to think that any one of them may go very wrong.

As much as we’d all love our event to go off without a hitch every single time, that isn’t always a reality. And the larger the event you put on, the greater the risk of something that will fall through the cracks.

Unfortunately, when something in your event does fall apart it can feel impossible to keep going. But keeping your head in the game and rolling with those punches is essential to resolving the issues as quickly as possible. In fact, the sooner you get to the root of the problem as seamlessly as you can, the easier your attendees will move on from any large problems and keep enjoying their experience.

But how do you keep your head in the game when there are technical difficulties? Or how do stay calm when a vendor doesn’t show up? Or if there is a setup mishap?

Keep reading to find out, because today we’re outlining some very simple strategies you can use to make sure that you’re still hosting the best event you can, even in the worst-case scenario.

Let’s get started:

Plan Ahead for Plan B

First and foremost, any planning you can do to keep from ending up in a worst-case scenario is (obviously) going to save you a headache in the long run, which is why it’s so important to plan ahead for what can go wrong.

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Likewise, this is where having clear communication channels among staff, volunteers, vendors, the venue, and attendees is essential to your event. Setting crystal clear expectations about what you need and when keeps everyone on the same page and knowing just what to expect.

However, When ‘what can go wrong will go wrong’, it’s also important to have a clear Plan B in place to fall back on. Click To Tweet With most events, this doesn’t just mean having two simultaneous plans in place, but that you also have a dedicated person who is in charge of redirecting and resolving any issues that may arise.

This also means that you have enough boots on the ground to help implement any changes that need to be made. For example, if the heat fails in one of the rooms for a breakout session, you need to have adequate staff to redirect attendees to another room, set it up so that it functions for the original purpose, and answer any questions an attendee may have.

Event worst-case scenarios

Prioritize the Attendee Experience

After having a Plan B in place and enough people around to implement it, the next most important part about handling a worst-case scenario is making sure you are keeping your attendees’ experience front and center in your mind.

To use the example again of the heating in a breakout room failing, attendees are far more likely to be more inconvenienced by being cold and uncomfortable, than they will be having some small confusion about which room to go to. While neither is ideal, making the best of a bad situation is essential to keeping everyone feeling taken care of.

Another example is if you have a technical failure with the slides while a speaker is talking. While embarrassing, attendees are always happy to wait a short while while you figure it out. However, if something is systemically wrong, it’s more important that you figure out a way to get the information to them later — such as making the slides available online afterwards — and keep the talk going than it is to test their ongoing patience while you figure it out.

Ultimately, the more you test and rehearse these issues ahead of time, the less likely these kinds of mistakes will happen in the first place.

To find more about what kinds of things could go wrong at your event — download the Ultimate Event ‘Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself’ Checklist!

But keeping your attendees’ experience front and center will mean they have a better time at your event regardless of what goes wrong.

Be Flexible

As with all parts of event planning and running, being flexible in any given situation will always be to your benefit, but this is especially true when something goes wrong.

Being flexible doesn’t just come into play by thinking quickly on your feet, but also by being willing to roll with the punches mentally.

Sometimes what falls apart isn’t something you even realized you needed a Plan B for, the venue canceling or weather delaying a speaker traveling to your event, for example. It’s during these times that it’s necessary to find a quick solution to those problems, and do so with ease and grace.

Again, effective communication will always be key during these times, especially with attendees. And this is why it’s vital to make sure there are easy and clear ways to reach them, even before the event, so that if something changes they can be apprised of it as soon as possible.

Event worst-case scenarios

Fake It Till You Make It

In the same way that it’s vital to keep your attendee experience front and center, It’s equally important that you and all your staff members appear calm throughout any problems. Click To Tweet Even though your event might be falling apart, staff and volunteers need to look as though everything is fine, stay calm, and keep a positive outward appearance.

This means that they walk slowly from one place to the next, instead of running. They should speak softly, or use a messaging app to communicate about what’s wrong, instead of talking about it in front of attendees. And it definitely means no yelling.

No matter what, staying calm and moving on will always be the best way to handle a worst-case scenario.

In the end…

Your attendees want to have a good time, and therefore, they want you to succeed. More likely than not, they’ll eagerly wait a few extra minutes, if need be, if in the end that means the rest of your event will go smoothly.

However, while they are eager to share their patience with you, staying ahead of the game will always be the best solution. This is why it’s so important to:

  • Give yourself plenty of time for setup before the event
  • Use a reputable venue and vendors that you trust
  • Test and rehearse each step before the day of
  • Always ask lots of clarifying questions along the way

With these practices in place, you’ll set a strong enough foundation to avoid any overly dramatic worst-case scenarios.

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