Speakers, have you ever felt bad having to cancel an event at the last minute? Event planners, and those charged with making an event memorable, do you know what to do when a speaker has to cancel?

We all know what happened and where we were on 9/11/2001, don’t we?  It’s a tragic day in our memories; but it began for me as an exciting one. I was in a jewelry business and that evening I had planned a special showing, where I was introducing another jeweler and helping her start her new business. We had worked hard on this for weeks, wanting everything to be so right for the ladies that would attend that evening.

I knew right away we would be rescheduling that event. As I called my new jeweler I had trouble reaching her as she worked at a hospital. Finally we connected and her first words to me were, “could you possibly still come tonight, as my family and friends want to gather together;  and can we modify our show so they can still be kept aware of what is going on?”

I was shocked at first because that was not what I had expected to hear. I realized by the sound of her voice, this was an option I needed to consider and accept both for her and her guests.

That evening was one I will never forget. That jeweler started her business off right by offering to meet the needs of her customers without thought of the business or profit she could earn.

I learned from that life lesson that there are always other options “when life happens.”  It is our job, either as speakers, representing speakers, or event planners, to be willing to find those unique options in advance that will best serve our audiences when what we planned is interrupted!

How do we do this? Pre-planning is the key!  As a seasoned professional speaker, and now representing other speakers, there is not much written about what speakers should do in case they have to cancel. Speakers and representatives of speakers, here are some successful tips that will grow your business and make you memorable:

1.       Put a cancellation policy in your contract that addresses the issue in advance.

2.       Build relationships, so you can secure a replacement before you ever contact the event planner to cancel.

3.       Call the event planner, as soon as possible, with the name of the replacement and assure them the event will be great.

4.       Follow-up with the event planner to see how it went, and let them know you would love to be booked again with them for any future event. Do this by phone or a hand written card, not an email. Show that personal touch!

Pre-planning for the Event Planner is a little different, but can be handled without Panic! Here are some proven tips that will serve you and your event team well.

1.       When negotiating with a speaker or their representative, make sure this issue is addressed in the contract both of you sign.

2.       Hopefully this will not happen too often, but when it does handle it with the new speaker without panic or long apologies to your audience. Correct printed material if you can, or just add an additional sheet for the new speaker, making sure your audience hears and sees you as the confident person you are.

3.       If you have a speaker or representative that was unable to secure a replacement, again don’t panic! Hope you have my name and others on your speed dial that you can call to find someone quickly. Don’t let cancelling or rescheduling the event be your only options.

4.       If still unable to find a speaker, or time is too short, you can always get with your team and quickly plan a round table panel discussion  with members of your audience involved. You never know you might find a great speaker for future events, or add to your speed dial list for the future! Or you could turn this time slot into more networking time!

5.       Remember to consider re-booking the speaker who had to cancel, if either they or their representative provided you a replacement. Be sure to share feedback with them concerning the replacement.

Do you see now that having to cancel as a speaker, or handling the details of the interruption does not have to be a major event or tragedy? I know your audience will appreciate the pre-planning each of you have done to meet their expectations and provide them a unique and memorable event.

 “Be Heard and Seen in 2013”

 “Simply” Sue Falcone

 Owner of “Simply” Sue Speaks! Your One Stop Provider of Speakers,

Trainers, Life Coaches, and Authors

Are we on your “speed dial” list? 336-375-1218 ofc. 336-707-0859 cell  888-766-3155 toll free