Event Management

PCMA Convening Leaders Exemplifies the Importance of Having a Contingency Plan

Skift Take

Booking a big-name speaker for your event attracts attendees. But if that speaker has to cancel, it's crucial to have a contingency plan in place. PCMA Convening Leaders led by example.

Unexpected twists and turns are part of planning any business event. Contingency plans are crucial to preventing viruses, flight delays, weather, or terrorist attacks from upending years of planning.

This list of potential risks is ever-changing, and we can confidently state that the Golden Globes Awards isn’t on it. Until now.

Actress Viola Davis, slated to be the closing keynote speaker of PCMA Convening Leaders, had to cancel at the last minute as she had been nominated for her role in The Woman King. Unfortunately, this meant she couldn’t be in Columbus as it clashed with the Golden Globes Awards Ceremony.

Although her absence was understandable, PCMA had to find a replacement. Daniel Pink, the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including his latest, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves us Forward, took the reins. He steered the conference to its close expertly. The audience was riveted, and his words of wisdom were well received. 

This is the second year PCMA has had to replace a keynote speaker unexpectedly. Last year, Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek fame, an award-winning writer, actor, director, and producer, had to cancel due to the extension of an existing contract. At the height of the omicron surge, PCMA’s contingency plan led to Ronan Farrow, Pulitzer Prize, and Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter and New York Times best-selling author.

The closing reception featured John Legend, an Ohio legend, who performed for conference attendees at Nationwide Arena. With his wife, Chrissy Tiegen, nine months pregnant, there was also a good chance that he may have had to cancel. Life is unpredictable. That is why meeting professionals must have contingency plans for the what-ifs. 

Pink’s Five Tips for Meeting Professionals

From the main stage, Pink shared five ways to restore motivation, battle burnout, and jumpstart 2023.

Create a to-don’t list. Defaulting to additive changes may be one reason people need help to mitigate overburdened schedules, he said. His advice? Identify three to five things that distract your attention, drain your energy, and divert you from your goals. Write these things down, and then don’t do them. Sometimes subtracting, not adding, can be beneficial. 

List three ways you made progress in your day. Take a moment at the end of the day to do this. Often, you will realize you made much more progress than you realized.

Focus on the why, not the how. Each week of 2023, have two fewer conversations about how and two more about why. Event professionals have many more how conversations than they realize, said Pink. Just twice turn those into why conversations.

Get moving. Schedule a 15-minute walk break every other afternoon. Breaks impact our performance. Many think powering through is the right way to get more work done. Breaks aren’t deviations from our performance; they are our performance, he said. Breaks with other people are more restorative than breaks alone. Outside beats inside. Fully detached beats semi-detached, so leave your phone behind.

If only I’d taken the chance. This is the most effective question for making important decisions. “What would I tell my best friend to do?” Remember, what haunts people are regrets of inaction and not action.

Photo credit: Andrea Doyle / Skift Meetings