Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three Ways to Avoid Surprises When You Organize an Event

Organizing events is complex and inherently risky but most unpleasant surprises can be anticipated and avoided. With experience most people can see where things are likely to go wrong, but there are also three techniques that make this easier:

1. SEE IT FOR YOURSELF. People who work in hotels, conference centers and other venues are probably not going to lie to you deliberately, but when you ask if they have something their answer might be inaccurate simply because they don't remember and don't check. The only way to be sure is to check for yourself or send someone who you trust to do this reconnaissance for you. Want to know if there is easy parking? Go look. Want to know if there is cell phone coverage in a basement room  Go try for yourself. Want to know if there is a projection screen? Go look, and try the button that makes the screen come down to make sure it does.

2. TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO DO THINGS. Very often you will be talking to a representative who should pass on your questions and requests to the people who will actually do the work, but for anything that is critical you really need to talk to the person who actually does the work. Want to know if a hotel can handle a specific video format? Don't ask a manager, ask the audio/visual guy. Want to be sure that your photographer knows exactly what you want? Talk to the actual person who will take the photos, not her boss. Want the waiters to pause clearing tables during the keynote? Talk to the waiters, not the manager.

3. MAKE CHECKLISTS AND USE THEM. Your visit to a venue should be methodical and systematic. You are not there just for a quick look round; you are there to make sure everything is the way you want it to be and to identify issues that will need action. The best way to do this is to go with a checklist. You can have a standard checklist of things you check every time, but make a specific list for each event depending on what you need to do. Every time something unexpected happens you will learn to add an extra line to your checklist.

Try applying these three techniques and you will see that the number of surprises that need urgent attention will go down. And as time passes your checklists will get more complete and more effective. You are also likely to acquire a handy toolkit of essentials like power strips, duct tape and other essentials, saving a last minute trip to the mall.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing on this and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Five Reasons Why Turning Off The Internet is a Bad Idea: Practical Advice for Busy Dictators

According to news reports Syrian President Bashar al Assad has apparently unplugged his country from The Internet. If you are a desperate despot I can see why you might be tempted to reach for that OFF switch when you get a few dislikes on Facebook. But as a communication consultant I don't recommend this for five reasons.

1. MORE NEGATIVE PRESS.  Turning off The Internet gets you some seriously bad press. I don't recall anyone ever writing a neutral-to-positive piece about this. You are probably getting some negative coverage anyway for other unpleasant things, but you don't mess with The Internet and get away with it.

2. DRIVES ANGER TO THE STREETS. Turning off The Internet can have the entirely unintended effect of encouraging more direct action. People are still angry and maybe they were venting their anger online, posting negative content on social media. Without this outlet they have little choice but to turn off the computer, hit the streets and throw hard, heavy stuff at wherever you live.

3. CUTS YOU OUT OF THE LOOP.  While The Internet is up you at least get to see what people are saying, who said it and who liked it. Turn the regular web off and people resort to other channels that you can neither monitor nor control. Now you don't even know how much angry they are or what they are going to do next.

4. THE BACKLASH CAN HURT.  Doing anything bad to The Internet winds up geeks who know how to hurt you. Remember all the embarrassing emails you sent to mistresses? Now they will be on the web for everyone to see. Have an official website? It will get hit like Mastercard and Visa. And remember how web-savvy jokers linked searches for the phrase "miserable failure" to the biography of George W Bush?   Do you really want to be the first google result for "asshole"?

5. DRIVES COMMUNICATION UNDERGROUND.  Most of all, once you show people that a communication network is not dependable you just give a lot of people the idea that they need a more robust, government-proof communication network. Maybe local community organizers will get satellite links. Maybe their neighbors install a peer-to-peer network that needs no state infrastructure. Or perhaps people can fall back on pen-and-paper solutions.

You might get a short-term relief from negative coverage by turning off The Internet, but long term it isn't going to do much good. People will just find other ways to get the word out and meantime you get yourself an even worse reputation as an Enemy of The Internet. People of The Internet do not forgive, they do not forget and they have a way of getting their own back.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing on this and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81.