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When the Unexpected Happens in Your Events

When the unexpected happens in events

What do you do when the unexpected happens? Do you panic? Do you have a knee-jerk response? How you respond when the unexpected happens in your event or in life matters.


Several months ago, I was on a Zoom call with Andrea Cisar at Stone House Digital. We were wrapping up our conversation when her son popped into the room. He had brought her a gift. How sweet right? He hands it to her – it was a worm. Like a real, live, wiggly worm covered in dirt.


I think we can all agree that this was quite unexpected. And for some our first response might have been Ewww! Get that back outside.  But Andrea accepted this ‘gift’ with grace and appreciation. She explained why the worm should be taken back outside and assured her son that he wouldn’t get run over by the lawn mower!


This was without a doubt one of the funniest and most endearing moments that I have experienced on a Zoom Call. But I loved how she was so appreciative of the gift. No doubt her son left feeling loved and proud of himself. I am sure he will keep bringing her gifts for years to come. Sorry not sorry Andrea.


This simple moment reminded me that how we approach The Unexpected in life and in our events makes all the difference to us and those around us. One thing I know for sure is The Unexpected is going to happen. No matter how hard you have planned. No matter how meticulous you have been with every detail. The Unexpected Happens.


So, what do you do when the unexpected happens? Because how you respond matters – to those watching you and depending on you. Do you panic when they call you and tell you a speaker canceled last minute? Do you go into fight or flight mode when you find that they set the room wrong and you have 30 minutes before your meeting starts? Do you react with stress, frustration, or even anger?


The reality is your adrenaline is going to spike. Our immediate response is going to trigger that fight or flight response. But you’re probably not going to have the best response in that mode.


Today, I’m going to share my tried-and-true method that has seen me through most of the UNEXPECTED things that have happened at my events. I call it the BAR method. Spoiler Alert: No alcohol is involved.

B – Breathe

A – Assess

R – Respond

BREATHE:  Take a deep breath. Take another. This is going to calm your nervous system and allow you to think clearly. Cause let’s be real – we ain’t thinking clearly when the adrenaline is spiking. But a few deep breaths will calm that response down immediately.

ASSESS: Now let’s assess the situation. How bad is it? Is this going to impact the success of your event? Are your attendees going to be upset? Who else needs to know? What interested parties do we need to inform? Do you have executives, board members, sponsors, etc. that need to be involved in handling the unexpected? Do you need to create a message for all your attendees?

RESPOND: Now you can respond from a place of calm and clarity. When we knee-jerk respond in the moment, it probably isn’t going to be the best decision. It is fueled by adrenaline and an “in the moment” response. But if we can breathe, assess, and then respond – we can make better decisions which leads to better outcomes.

The next time the Unexpected happens in your event or your life, I hope you will turn to the BAR method and use this easy process to respond. And hey, if after all is managed and your event/life is rolling along on all four wheels again and you head to a bar for a drink, have a chocolate martini for me!

May you learn to love the BAR process and apply it to all the UNEXPECTED that life has in store for you!

DISCLAIMER: The BAR Method is NOT for emergencies. Your Event Emergency Plan will lay out exactly what to do during an emergency. Don’t have an emergency plan? Don’t worry! The next blog post will cover exactly what you need in your Emergency Plan.

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