How to handle a presentation disaster

Your keynote speaker is in a plane stacked up over the city, or he just keeled over. Now what? Here are some backup ideas to have in place should disaster strike at the last minute.

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What do you do when the show can’t go on?

Mid-September was supposed to be a good time for BMW. The Frankfurt Motor Show was on, and CEO Harald Krueger was on hand to present the company’s new lineup of cars to the assembled journalists and other audience members.

Then he fainted.

Apparently, he hadn’t been feeling well—worn out from traveling. The good news is that he was not seriously sick, by all accounts. Just a passing affliction.

What do you do when your speaker simply cannot speak? The old theatrical adage holds that “the show must go on,” but sometimes it can’t—or at least the speaker can’t.

What do you do?

Krueger’s tumble was a great reminder of the need—always—to have a Plan B.

I would wager that most of you don’t. Most speakers don’t have a contingency plan for when they’re incapacitated. Most conference organizers don’t have a backup speaker at the ready for when the keynoter fails to show up for one reason or another. Most webinar hosts don’t have a sub ready to go on when the invited guest develops acute laryngitis.

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