As an event organizer, here you are: after months of planning, the conference program is coming together nicely. With little time left, one of your speakers informs you she cannot attend. What now?
The key is having a contingency plan. Use the following tips to avoid being caught off-guard:
Prepare for changes and cancellations. With more quality submissions than can fit in the program, leave some of them pending. Often speakers will propose multiple sessions. Select the best match and discuss the possibility of including another one if need be.
Ask speakers for a recommendation. If someone you were counting on cancels, don’t hesitate to ask for an introduction. Being well connected, top notch speakers can easily recommend a replacement.
Invite local speakers, community leaders, or partners. Being well acquainted with the local scene, involve top practitioners in your area. Alternatively, inviting a community leader, or a partner with speaking experience will diversify the program.
Ask Me Anything with members of the line-up. Speakers have more valuable advice than they can give in a talk. Bring up the option of doing an AMA session.
Engage attendees through Open space, a Fishbowl, or facilitated networking. A rigid structure and a unidirectional flow often turn people away from conferences. Open Space sessions, fishbowl conversations, and facilitated networking solve both issues. Attendees choose the best use of their time while making valuable connections.
Remember: you don’t have to do it all. Let the speakers, partners, and participants get involved. You’ll be surprised by the end result, with the program shaped for everyone’s benefit.