How to Plan for the Unexpected

As a meeting planner, there will always be unexpected situations that occur at any given outing, meeting, reception, etc. They can range from something as small as a speaker breaking their glasses to full-blown AV shut down. Like Murphy always says: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

How can you plan for the unexpected?

  1. Having a list and checking it twice (maybe even three or four times). A checklist is a great way to remind yourself of what you will need in regards to onsite materials and supplies. Having a checklist helps you not only stay organized onsite, but can help you better prepare leading up to the event. Save your checklist from year to year, and make sure to review it before and after each event.  Add the items that you realized too late would have been helpful onsite…and the random, reasonable (a pair of pliers and a staple to fix an arm of someone glasses…some Macgyver type stuff) items attendees ask you for at registration (i.e. Band-Aids, batteries, paper clips). This list is also a great way to get shipments ready to be sent to the meeting site, keeps you organized and lets you know which supplies are in which box.
  2. Know your equipment. If you are planning a smaller meeting or event, and have no budget to hire an AV-tech, then make sure to know how to use the equipment you are working with. Make sure you test it once before you leave the office before travelling, and then again onsite. Even if you are bringing your own equipment, most meeting venues have the AV department onsite and willing to help you should you run into any issues, but be proactive and know your equipment in case that option is unavailable.
  3. Early bird catches the mistakes. Despite how early your registration desk opens, arrive at least an hour early to your desk. This will give you extra time to communicate changes to the onsite staff, fix any AV issues and get last minute items together before the rush of registration.
  4. Stay calm and plan on. The most important thing you can do when anything unexpected happens is to stay calm. You don’t want your clients and attendees to see you sweat. Hiccups happen, but how you handle them will weigh heavily on the minds of your clients and attendees. You will have time later to scream or cry into a glass of wine once the meeting is over.

If you stay calm, arrive early, and consistently check your lists you will be better prepared to handle the unexpected professionally.