In my last article, A Real Life Crisis: The Speaker’s Flight is Canceled, I provided you with a detailed real event crisis and some simple steps to follow when you encounter a calamity. In this article, I will delve a bit deeper into those steps and provide you with another example of an onsite event crisis. This actually happened this spring when we had one of the entertainment groups cancel hours before a client’s event.

1. Remain calm; you aren’t going to solve the problem running around like a chicken with your head cut off

I was sitting in a meeting first thing in the morning on the event day with all of the key client staff, finalizing the script and order of events for that evening.

All of a sudden, I received a phone call from the entertainment group’s agent informing me know that our scheduled group were unable to perform that night. But, she had other groups that they could contact to perform if we required a replacement. I let her know that I would have to talk it over with the client and I would get back to her.

Since I was in the room with the client when I took the phone call, it was even more important to stay composed. I had to not only deliver this bad news, but at the same time appear confident that our company could easily find a solution. I remained calm and composed and explained the situation to the client.

2. Accept the situation and remain solutions-focused

There was no use getting upset or demanding that they have a good reason for canceling the performance. The call was only a minute long, and in that minute I had already decided to accept the situation and work towards finding a solution. Often, when these types of situations arise it is very easy to get caught up in the news and immediately go into a negative mindset (“poor me”, “not again”, etc.), but you can’t allow yourself to do this. Accept the situation and use your energy to find a solution instead of using your energy to get upset about a situation that is really out of your control

3. Be adaptable

Since we were going through the run of show for the evening when I received the notice of cancelation, the timing of this bad news couldn’t have been better. I took a few minutes to review the schedule and look to see how we could fill the gap and shift around the programming.

Luckily, this wasn’t the only entertainment for the night. Our first potential solution was to just forgo a third piece of entertainment for the evening, but the client was very insistent on having three pieces of entertainment worked into the evening.

So, my first solution didn’t work, despite it being the easiest solution. I quickly had to move on and continue to brainstorm. In these types of situations you often don’t have the time to come out with detailed solutions, so don’t get too worried if your first or even your second or third solutions don’t work out. Move on and keep those wheels in your brain turning.

4. Ask for support!

I was able to work through this crisis with both the client and my own team. Having a variety of people involved in the process made for a much more collaborative decision making process.

Talking out loud through various solutions worked really well and by operating as a team we were able to come up with the best solution possible.

5. The solution

Our anthem singer for the event had been getting a lot of media attention lately as she had just won a singer/songwriter competition. We had contracted her to only sing the national anthem, but got in contact with her agent right away to see if she could do an additional set. It did take a few hours of going back and forth with her agent and working out logistical details to finally firm everything up, but the solution worked for us. Although this meant making even more changes to the run of show before we could distribute final copies to everyone, it was worth it.

In the end, her performance ended up being one of the highlights of the evening and people wanted her to play an even longer set!

Crises are inevitable at events that involve many moving pieces, so you just have to be prepared to deal with them. Applying these steps when challenges come up will help to ensure that your event runs smoothly and will help to give your event a great reputation.