Have you ever managed a virtual conference from a hospital bed? It was a first for Heather Dow, senior manager at Events & Management Plus, Inc. When the potential to be sidelined by a life-threatening injury read out how our Encore Canada team helped her manage one of the biggest events of her career without many of her colleagues knowing she was in the hospital.
Heather credits much of the event’s collaborative success to her partnership with Encore.
In this article, we will cover:
- What can go wrong before an event
- Event risk management
- How to recover your event after things go wrong
Key Takeaways: how to plan your event when things go wrong
What Can Go Wrong Before an Event
An unexpected injury
For more than a year, Heather worked on University of Toronto’s “Insulin100”, a complex virtual symposium of clinical and industry partners to celebrate a century of insulin’s discovery at the institution.
A few days before the event, during a challenging bike ride with her partner Rob, Heather flew over the handlebars of her bike on a decline. She landed on her shoulder and back ribs and slid down the hill with her bike on top of her. She thought she only dislocated her shoulder.
Three days later she learned her injuries were much worse – a punctured and fully collapsed lung. With only three days left until the event!
An unforeseen turn of events
Heather’s superior level of organization couldn’t help reinflate her lung or heal the tear. Doctors prescribed bed rest and connected her to a chest tube. That meant she needed to attend Wednesday’s dress rehearsal from her hospital bed.
Event Risk Management
She tapped into the extensive production support Encore provided.
The Encore team was able to help create a virtual experience:
- Set up a virtual green room for hosting virtual speakers to video chat with Heather, so she could conduct business as she healed.
- They provided a production expertise that enhanced the experience, too: ensuring photos were up for any tardy speakers.
- The production team supported a flawless outcome/execution for virtual conferencing.
- The producer redesigned the educational attendee experience, with a virtual event platform, so it would be easier for Heather to manage. Instead of a stream of simultaneous single speakers, participants would enjoy an interactive panel of experts.
“I really appreciated how Encore Director of Operations Daisy Ranger was so calm and was able to get a sense of what the client needed when I was distracted by the thoracic surgeon and nurses,” Heather says.
“The team took control of the situation and made adjustments, such as creating a panel instead of having [single] speakers simultaneously. They took leadership in getting new lower thirds done with all the panelists. Ultimately, they made sure that the client got what they needed without me having to direct it, which was a really nice touch.”
How to Recover your Event After Things Go Wrong
An unforgettable event day
The hospital team also aided the collaborative effort to produce a successful event that was live-streamed. Not only did the hospital ensure that Heather’s x-rays were scheduled before the meetings and during break times, but they also made sure she was eating, so she could be physically energized for video conferencing.
Heather appreciated the way the Encore team handled the client:
- Encore confirmed the speakers had the scripts and necessary tools required to present comfortably.
- They provided little touches that enhanced the experience, too: ensuring photos were up for any tardy speakers.
“Delegates loved that the event was a panel discussion with four new experts, every hour. I t was like watching The View all day long,” Heather says. More importantly, she appreciated knowing Encore had her back and were delivering an exceptional event experience. This helped her relax and focus on her recovery.
“Encore showed that when you have a great delivery platform, great things can happen. Insulin100 event had a professional look and delivery. The praise was significant from attendees, faculty and speakers. There were very only a few technical issues among the 4,000 participants, and they were all addressed in real-time.”
Key Takeaways: How to Plan Your Event When Things Go Wrong
Meeting and event professionals know to be prepared. But as Heather’s experience shows, you can’t control everything. Here are Heather’s Top-4 takeaways for weathering last-minute disruptions:
- Know your program. Having a solid program rollout (with defined needs and expectations) and ensuring your support team are as prepared as you is key. It is critical to have open and constant communication, so your team knows all the event details.
- Know the value of an event production company. Having a reliable and trusted production partner will ensure that the program is delivered successfully. In the case of Insulin100, there were nine breakout sessions and a lot of content to manage; having a production partner support the coordination in a virtual environment and prevent glitches was key!
- Have a shared organizational tool. A shared project management tool like Basecamp enabled Heather to easily hand off her duties to the Encore team when it was needed.
- Plan with solid lead time. Heather communicated her expectations to faculty, event partners and speakers more than a year in advance, and reinforced those needs periodically. When Encore stepped in, they had everything they needed to be successful in their role as the production and delivery team.
Want to create events that transform as Heather did? Learn more about partnering with Encore to plan your next virtual conference.