The words “speaker cancellation” might strike terror into the heart of the amateur meeting planner. Not so with our Heartland Chapter President, Amy Harper-Steinwand, at our September 16th luncheon. After a delicious meal at the Sheraton Overland Park, Amy dropped the bomb. At 7:30 that morning she was told that our scheduled speaker had laryngitis. To add to the stress, we had a large registration list, with members and guests coming from near and far to join us at the session. With some fast and furious brainstorming at the scheduled board meeting an alternative program was hatched. Without skipping a beat Amy began a lively round table discussion on topics that were both pertinent to PCMA but also valuable to us professionally. “What keeps us up at night?” “What makes PCMA important to me?” and “What would encourage us to travel to a PCMA meeting?” were just a few of the questions we answered around our tables. After discussing in our small groups, Amy passed the microphone and our thoughts were shared with the crowd.
In the hospitality industry, meetings are our stock and trade. If you haven’t had a speaker back out on you yet, well, it’s just a matter of time. The question is, what can you do in that block of time that will be valuable to the attendee and make them glad they came? By some quick thinking, deft leadership skills and masterful public speaking the audience at our September meeting might never have known there had been a last minute program change. Of course, we shared the situation with them—because it’s PCMA.
Although we all anticipated hearing a speaker on Essential Business Etiquette, we came away with so much more. Not only were we asked to share what was important to us, but we observed a lesson in spontaneous collaboration and successfully salvaging a meeting. Congratulations on a meeting well run and a job well done!