Karma. Fate. Everything happens for a reason.  All possible explanations we and other’s give us when we are faced with life’s unexpected hiccups.  As Event Leaders, working in a fast-paced environment with many “irons in the fire” even a minor crisis can quickly derail an event production timeline, a deadline to submit a pitch or proposal to a client and even our administrative tasks such as payroll and scheduling.

When life serves you up a lemon we don’t need to pucker up and take the sour!  In the world of event management, anticipating the unexpected and being prepared is crucial to our success.  With so much riding on timing and deadlines as we move through the execution of an event it doesn’t take a major crisis to completely derail the most throughout and planned event.


The Lottery Theory


As an event professional we need to get ahead of any crisis by working smart and taking an offensive stance by employing excellent project management skills. Excellent project management skills should stand the test of  the so-called lottery theory – meaning if you won the lottery ( a much less macabre “hit by a bus” theory) and exited stage left any team member could pick up and take over without skipping a beat. With the use of project management tools such as detailed critical path documents complete with tasks, deadlines and the assignment of accountability, detailed production schedules and event supplier contact lists, volunteer schedules etc. an event should survive the unexpected crisis.

Keep It Real


There is no good time for the unexpected, but when it does happen, keep it real.  Carefully consider what you are truly still able to commit to and revise expectations for yourself and others.   Spreading yourself thin during a crisis can lead to another crisis of sorts. Often we are quick to suggest that we can “work from home” whilst dealing with a sick family member, our own illness, or heaven forbid a death in the family and although we are well-intended we aren’t really very effective as the distraction of the crisis becomes all-consuming.  Taking an honest inventory of what makes sense and with excellent communication with our staff and team members we can ensure tasks and responsibilities stay on track.

Rely on Your Network and “Peeps”


So often during a crisis we hear friends or colleagues mutter “if you need anything, let me know” or “we are here for you”.  Take them up on it. Whether a colleague offers to take some paperwork off your hands or a friend offers to bring you a home cooked meal – let them do it.  It is not necessary to prove you are capable of keeping your professional and home life in complete order. Accepting help and support from your network and community serves can be very good for stress management and enable you to focus on the issue or challenge you have been faced with.

Remember we will be judged on how we manage a crisis so with some preparedness, smart project management skills and letting go a little to rely on our “peeps” we can survive most unexpected challenges life might throw our way and as Event Leaders still ensure positive event outcomes.  


Heidi Hughes

Heidi Hughes

Director, Sales & Marketing, Anvil Centre | President Elect, MPI BC Chapter

A 20-year hospitality sales and marketing professional, Heidi honed her skills working for some of the best hotels chains in the world, including Hyatt Regency, Marriott and Hilton. After almost a decade in conference and convention hotels, she spent several years as Manager, Events and Conference at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) before coming to Anvil Centre as Director, Sales and Marketing. Energetic and positive, her career has evolved from hospitality management, sales and marketing to include event management. Her devotion to being a contributing member of a growing and evolving industry that is continuously setting new and higher standards for best practices is echoed in her extra- curricular work and activities. Heidi is a former Instructor at both the British Columbia Institute of Technology and the Art Institute of Vancouver and is highly active with Meeting Professionals International on both a local chapter and International Level. 

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