We all know the age old adage from Benjamin Franklin that “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” In the events industry, this often feels like it rings true, with every events professional able to tell you tales of poorly planned events they’ve either attended or been involved in, and what stress and frustration it caused for everyone. But how do we plan for the unplannable?

If 2020 taught us anything about planning, it’s that sometimes no matter how carefully you plan and effectively you implement, things happen outside of your control. In 2021, I’ve been scoping and planning my events in February much like every year, however this year I’ve got tools in my arsenal that help me plan for the unplannable.

The events industry was rocked by COVID-19, and I was personally thrown into a lot of uncertainty and challenges around the events I had to deliver. This time taught me a lot of valuable things about planning and delivering successful events, and I want to share three of these with you, in the hope it will help you when you experience what can’t be planned for with your event (or life)!


Be flexible

It felt like in March 2020 that the events industry shut down overnight. Suddenly myself and countless professional conference organisers were left grappling with not just how to deliver our events, but if it was responsible to do so. This struggle taught me to be flexible.

You always need a certain amount of flexibility and adaptability when you’re an events professional, but the absolute change of life and work we experienced pushed me to my limit and brought out an extra appreciation for making things work in the worst of circumstances. I learnt that with a little bit of flexibility to the roadmap, you can create something even better than what you could plan.


Be willing to learn

It was 2020 that thrust me into hybrid events, and therein forged the future of my work, business and industry! I could never have pulled off the successful hybrid Australian Bushfire Building Conference (and gotten a commendation for it 🎉) without being willing to learn.

It’s tough to learn new things. Especially technology. Especially under stress. But embracing being new at something, digging in, trying new things and embracing every opportunity to learn brought me and my business so much joy and success.

Be compassionate

Whether you’re the event planner, the client or the delegate – be compassionate. Whether a global pandemic, natural disaster or just the keynote speaker getting terrible food poisoning the day before the event – not everything can be planned for and controlled. We can all do our bit by treating others with compassion, and rolling with the punches when the punches come.

I still plan and scope out my events as a start of the process. Don’t think I’ve stopped planning! However I am more aware of what is unknown, and have a mindset that helps me tackle whatever challenge comes my way.

If you need help with your association or non-profit conference or event, get in touch to find out how I can help you.