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Plan C: Expecting the Unexpected at Your General Session


General Sessions are the main focus of events, and, with all eyes watching, you want them to be perfect. Rehearsals are key, but sometimes unexpected surprises are out of your control: a speaker is running late, a discussion wraps earlier than planned and you’re still lining up all your graduates for the next segment, there’s a technical issue and the crew needs time to troubleshoot, or maybe the banquet staff is running behind and their service is tied to the next piece of programming.  

Whenever something like this happens, it’s important to have a grab bag of “fillers“ you can reach into if needed. Here are a few of LAI Live’s favorites:

  • Sponsor Spots: What better time to let your sponsors shine than during a brief ‘commercial break’ in your programming. Challenge sponsors to provide brief remarks in an engaging way–for example, a list of the top 5 reasons they’re important to the attendees, or highlighting 3 things they’re doing to innovate within the industry. 
  • Promotional Videos: Most programming features a promo for the next event, or marketing pieces that showcase key initiatives. Knowing ahead of time which ones have flexibility within your programming schedule will allow for quick last-minute changes.  
  • News Commentary: If you’re using an industry-related emcee for your event, have them on stand-by to provide commentary, notes, or lead a brief Q&A session as a follow-up to a speaker.
  • Hot Seat Interviews: On a similar note, have an interviewer and a few possible interviewees on stand-by. Interviews can be light-hearted and entertainment-based, or they can focus on a specific industry topic related to the interviewee.
  • Event Highlights: Depending on where in the program this change occurs, have someone ready to provide a quick glimpse into what has taken place and been learned at the conference up to that point. It can be list of trends, hot topics, key takeaways, or common feedback on sessions, receptions and activities.
  • Business Updates: Use this unexpected gift of time as an opportunity to give brief updates on industry research, soon-to-be-released initiatives, or share fun facts on accomplishments from the past year. 
  • Health & Fitness Pauses: Keep attendees moving! Use the time to have a personal trainer lead a guided stretch and movement break. This keeps attendees near their seats, just not in their seats.
  • Audience Research: Take advantage of this built-in focus group. Bonus? Your audience won’t realize there’s a break in programming if they’re engaged the entire time. Use this break as a chance to dig into what concerns them, what they see as trends, what they’ve enjoyed the most about the conference, who they’d like to see as a keynote speaker at the next conference or any other topic that is important for you to know.

Next time the unexpected happens at your event, don’t be afraid to step forward and, with some quick thinking, save the day!

Want to talk to an event producer about your next event? Call 202-783-0300 or live chat with a member of our team right now.

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