You’ve been planning this event for months. Hours upon hours of preparation, long phone calls and late nights—you know how it is. Now the event is finally taking place, and everything is going smoothly until, all of a sudden, disaster strikes. The power goes out, right in the middle of a presentation. Just like that, Wi-Fi is down. No more internet, no more app access—what do you do? Technology is an increasingly popular element of executive events, so what happens when internet access is suddenly stripped away? Here are a few elements to consider when planning for disconnected events.
Know Your Venue
Every experienced event planner knows the importance of collecting information about the venue they’re using. Yet planners can easily forget to learn about their venue’s Wi-Fi and building power. Does your venue have a plan in case of a tech-related emergency? If your venue is not used to providing Wi-Fi for groups as large as yours, you shouldn’t be surprised if internet goes down. If your venue doesn’t have a backup generator, a power outage will be a serious issue. Be sure your venue has a tech back-up plan which includes options such as back-up generators, alternate ways to access WiFi, etc. so your group experiences minimal interruption and disruption.
No one likes losing internet connection or phone service, but these issues can be especially problematic if event attendees are relying on their devices for direction. If people are relying on text updates in order to know where to go next, losing phone service will cause mass confusion. If they need a certain app, connectivity issues will cause a real problem. Make sure attendees know the event itinerary, and don’t be afraid to remind everyone about what’s coming next. Physical copies of the itinerary will also be incredibly helpful in case attendees lose internet connection or phone service.
Don’t Fear Low-tech
There has been some great advancement in the world of meetings technology, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s very risky to have an entire event rely on technology, especially if the tech in question relies on phone service, internet connection, or power outlets. In situations of unexpected disconnection, low-tech options can come in handy. If you lose power and your speaker can’t show any of their slides, your speaker would probably be grateful for a whiteboard. Similarly, providing attendees with notebooks and printouts can be helpful if they’re no longer able to receive presentation notes via email.
This can be difficult, but allowing some flexibility in your event schedule can really help you in a time of crisis. Let’s say your keynote speaker is scheduled to speak at 7, but must leave immediately after their presentation in order to catch their flight. If the power goes out halfway through the presentation, and stays out for thirty minutes, this will totally throw off your schedule. Your speaker will have to leave before finishing their presentation, and the success of the whole event will be severely hindered. Creating an itinerary that allows for some flexibility in the event of an emergency can help you avoid this crisis. Make sure your entire event schedule won’t be ruined by a half-hour power outage or Wi-Fi disconnection.
Choose Your Presenters Wisely
This is a big one. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a tech-heavy presentation, but new technology is no substitute for good content. If the power goes out and your speaker can no longer rely on their slides or fancy tech, will they still be able to provide the useful presentation you were expecting? Make sure your presenters have good content and know their material; otherwise a disconnection will turn from a temporary inconvenience to an all-out train wreck.
Embrace No Tech Entirely
Whether you chose to go no tech entirely or opt to segment parts of your meeting where there is no technology this can work in your favor. Sometimes taking a break from email, computers, screens, etc. can be a welcomed relief for executives who spend many hours interacting with technology. Creative meetings that look for ways to move beyond the necessity for technology can go a long way with busy executives.
Technology can be a great addition to your event, but losing power, Wi-Fi, or phone service shouldn’t ruin your whole program. As always, preparation in the days, weeks, and months leading up to your event can save you a lot of trouble in the event of an emergency. A disconnected event doesn’t have to be a disaster.
Are you planning an upcoming executive meeting or event? Contact Gavel International to learn more about our executive meeting planning programs.