Delight in the Backup Plan
A Meeting planner’s backup plans should be ready to implement at any moment. These three types should be used for high-stakes meetings and events:
1. A contingency plan is developed in response to a potential issue that has less than 50% chance of coming up. An example would be reserving space inside of a venue in case of an impending storm.
2. A secondary option is a safeguard that is formulated before the meeting. It likely won’t be implemented, but will be kept in mind just in case. An example would be that the client wants a short demo of a new product, and though it’s been tested and works properly, the meeting planner keeps a list of other options for breaks and presentations should there be more time needed for setup or troubleshooting.
3. A suggestion or scenario is a plan of action that is updated in real time based on how the meeting is going. For instance, a MP notices a speech is running over the allotted time, so they speak with client about adjusting breakouts or setup times. Or the tech may notice that the patrons on the sides of the stage are having trouble seeing the presentation and may make a suggestion on how to change the display for the next presentation. Mics may be changed to lavs, etc.
A Scenario in this context is a “what if” potential situation that a meeting planner, producer, or tech anticipates based mainly on previous meetings. An example would be, to make sure that entrances, outings, breakout rooms all have accessibility for disabled individuals even though you don’t have any disabled members scheduled to attend. Or a meeting planner may order a small vegan meal for a potential restricted diet though no one has indicated they have restrictions.
Here are a few examples of backup plans that are helpful to have in place:
- When planning AV or production get a secondary bid/quote and confirm with the 2nd vendor if they are available on the day of event. The same can be done with the caterer.
- Try to reserve 1 laptop- as a presentation laptop that holds all important materials, presentations, and media that stays with the meeting planner. Backup the files if possible on a thumb drive.
- Charge all equipment; load it in bags, and double check connections and log-ins the day before the event.
- Attempt to get as much of the meeting materials ahead of time to review. Bring additional copies as well as digital copies.
- Keep a list of available rooms during the meeting.
- Keep a list of allergies and special health considerations.
- Keep copies of details of each breakout with rooms, facilitator, and layout
- Helpful tools to have include tape, scissors, an extra working cell phone, wi-fi access, personal printer, first aid kit, painkillers, flashlight, a ream of paper, sticky notes, knife or box cutter, walkie talkies, etc
- It’s also helpful to have $20-100 petty cash on hand for things like parking, valet, taxi, coat check, extra lunches, dietary needs and even medicine for members, executives and stakeholders. (When the CEO asks you for Pellegrino water, you don’t ask for the cash)