Rule 4. Know your trump cards (who can push meeting or take scheduled space.)
Now that you are ready to fail let’s talk about one of the way you can get thrown for a loop. Scheduling issues and people who can push you out of a space.
While scheduling issues can affect anyone in any event. Knowing who can push you from a meeting space apply to larger organizations with a hierarchy.
For me, it was the Secretary of Labor. When his office schedule an event in a space, they could push anything already scheduled there. This happened to me a few times and we either had to scurry around to try to find a replacement space or postpone the event.
For others, it could be any of your Senior Leadership team. Always be aware you could get bumped from your space the day of the event.
It may not always be a person who bumps you from your space. There could be another higher-profile event happening that could take your space. Or another smaller event could grow with more interest than anticipated.
No matter how carefully event space is juggled there are always mistakes. A room can be double-booked. A booking can get lost or an event can get bumped.
Of all the things that can go wrong, the loss of a space is almost always a deal killer. If the event has no remote participants it’s easier, but if there’s a reliance on technology and remote participants, a venue change is almost always a death-blow.
I say almost because every event is different. What cancels one event may move another back an hour. What one event needs to succeed my not matter to another.
I’ve run a couple of events that have gotten pushed at the last second. One was scheduled for the Auditorium and we had tested and worked out all the kinks.
As I was leaving my desk to set up for the event and do one last test, I got a phone call putting our weeks of work to an end. The Secretary of Labor needed the space for another event. So our event was cancelled and there was no rescheduling it because the person booked to speak wasn’t available again any time soon.
That was a heart-breaker because we had put a lot of work into it. All the planning meetings, testing in the Auditorium and working out the video and audio components in addition to the presenter’s slide deck. We had it all working beautifully but we never got to use any of it.
All the World is a Stage
I treat each event I put on like a stage show. We have the players and we have the set and venue. There’s an audience to please with our performance. When an event gets cancelled it feels like our rehearsals are for a show that never goes on. It’s disappointing. Even if the event is an All-Hands Meeting or a State of the Union meeting.
Knowing who can push you out of a space is just another thing to plan around. It’s another point of failure for a meeting. You can do your best but it may still happen and when it does, be ready to think on your feet because there may be a way to save the event, or it may be cancelled.