When Things Fall Apart

Even the most novice event planner has a back-up plan for what to do if something goes wrong. You have the tent ready to go in case rain strikes your outdoor event. You have extra dishes and glasses. You even have your emergency kit filled with a sewing kit, duct tape, a first-aid kit, and more.

But what do you do if the event goes horribly, disastrously wrong – even before it starts?

Take the Volkswagen launch of the 2016 Jetta. A few days before the massive event featuring a performance by Lenny Kravitz, Volkswagen’s name was all over the news, and not for the new Jetta: for engineering cars that could cheat their way through diesel emissions tests.

And take a Carly Fiorina event where the backdrop and part of the stage collapsed while she was speaking (there were no injuries, thankfully).

So how do you plan for the totally, catastrophically unexpected?

Before the event:

  • Safety First. Always, always insist on keeping the employees as well as the event guests as safe as possible.
  • Communicate. Being crystal clear in the planning stages can save everyone from a world of hurt – literally.
  • Don’t Panic. Not only will panicking not help solve the problem, but it’ll also dissolve everyone’s confidence in you.

During / after the event:

  • Control What You Can. And let go of what you can’t.
  • Know When to Fold ’Em. As the song “The Gambler” goes, know when to hold ’em (or keep going) and know when to fold ’em (or when to recommend that your client cancel).

You can’t plan for every single possible disaster. But with preplanning and confidence, you can be prepared to handle whatever comes your way during an event – and execute it the best you can.