What’s Your Plan B? What to Do If Your Keynote Speaker Canceled Last Minute

So you’ve spent months and months planning an event. It’s the biggest ever, you’ve pulled out all the stops and covered all your bases. You’ve planned for every single possible contingency. Especially the biggest one. Your keynote speaker canceled at the last minute.

A nightmare, right? You’ve printed all the programs and posters with that person’s face all over them. Attendees have bought tickets with the promise of hearing an awesome keynote speech from this particular speaker. And the—admittedly, rare—unthinkable has happened. One of the worst things that could happen, really.

But! 

Being the professional planner that you are, you’re prepared with your Plan B, right?

I hope so! 

Here is a list of some Plan Bs for when your keynote speaker cancels at the last minute (I know it seems unlikely, but it does happen!).

Five Plan B tips for when your keynote speaker cancels last minute.

1. Crowdsource your crowd for a networking opportunity. 

Be upfront with your audience that your keynote speaker canceled, then turn that negative into a positive. Turn the empty time slot into an opportunity to have a group think tank. Have some talking points ready, ask your attendees to form groups and discuss the points on a timer with a buzzer. Invite them to reform new groups every time the buzzer rings and assign a new talking point. The points can be anything from current social issues to favorite kitchen hacks. Keep things moving at a fast pace and your audience will be laughing and forming new connections in no time. When time is up, have audience members share their favorite thoughts from the session for a larger group discussion. This lively interaction will quickly distract your audience from the missing keynote.

Corporate event planning has its own unique challenges…for some useful advice check out this post: Ten tips to make your corporate event unforgettable!

2. Appoint another guest as your substitute.

Many larger events feature many talented people. Well before the event, approach one of them and ask if they would like to be your substitute keynote speaker. Most speakers will jump at that opportunity. You will have to compensate them for their additional responsibility, but as your keynote will have forfeited their compensation, (unless their contract states otherwise) you will have space in your budget. If this happens, you can advertise their original session as an extension of their keynote.

3. Mine your past speakers.

Your past speakers can be a great resource in a pinch because you already have a positive working relationship with them; they trust you and you trust them. If your keynote speaker cancels, run through your list of past speakers and call any who are in your area and might be able to help you out with a last-minute favor. They already know that you’re good for your word, so will be more likely to stick their neck out for you. 

4. Create a panel session.

Choose five or six big players from your audience or list of other presenters. Have a strong moderator appointed, and line your panel up in chairs on the stage for a group discussion around a current topic that is pertinent to the industry. Field questions from the audience and keep the discussion moving and interesting.

5. Work with a speakers bureau.

When your speaker cancels last minute, your best Plan B is to have a speakers bureau in your back pocket ready to be dispatched. As professionals who have years of experience in the industry, a speakers bureau has countless speakers at their fingertips and the ability to pull in favors to get you a great backup speaker fast. A speakers bureau does all the legwork and paperwork for you so all you have to do is make the call and wait for your speaker to arrive.

There is a lot to think about when planning an event, and your speakers are arguably the most important part. Ready to start taking the guesswork and legwork out of booking a speaker and leave the particulars to the professionals? Don’t hesitate to contact us to get started.  

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7 Tips to Save Money When You’re Planning an Event

Event planning has always been a tough industry. And now with our ever more competitive economy and smaller and smaller budgets, planning an event is more challenging than ever. 

Gone are the days of sky’s the limit budgets. Now, clients are expecting their planners to pull off the same events they always have but at greatly reduced budgets. 

Everyone is trying to save money. And if you want to succeed in today’s planning industry, this means you, too.

Here are seven helpful ways that you can trim costs off of your next event.

7 Tips to Save Money When You’re Planning an Event

1. Know your budget.

This one seems simple but when you’re planning an event it is vitally important to know your budget. 

A million little costs you didn’t anticipate can pile up mighty fast and blow your budget before you know it, especially if you never had a handle on your budget in the first place.

So the first thing you need to do if you want to save money is to know your budget inside and out. No gray areas and no wiggle room. Before you start, solidify and confirm the final budget with your client. 

2. Use a sponsor.

Or better yet, sponsors. 

Our unforgiving economy means everyone is looking for ways to save money. So get out there and find them. There are many companies that would love to gain some exposure through sponsorship of your event. Sponsors can provide everything from banners to swag to free transportation. Take a look around.

New companies looking for exposure are perfect candidates for sponsorship. Approach some that are in fields related to your event and strike up a deal. This can potentially save a lot of money for your event.

3. Be selective with venues.

Think suburban! Don’t just go for the standard (and potentially expensive) conference halls and hotels in the center of town. When booking venues, you can save money just by thinking outside of the box and outside of the city limits, too. 

Next time you’re planning an event, instead of booking smack dab in the city center, think about booking slightly outside of town, in a suburb ideally reached by local transit. Or, book more creative (cheaper) venues such as local theaters, galleries, and smaller hotels. Even trendy “pop-up” restaurants and venues can be created for an event.

4. Think big? No, think small! 

There are so many amazing start-up companies out there that are chomping at the bit to get out there, get some experience, and get some exposure. So when you’re planning an event, from the transportation to the catering to the recycling, instead of defaulting to the big names, take a closer look at what the local entrepreneurs are offering. 

If you approach these vendors with an open mind and a willingness to negotiate, you can secure some great services for your event at great prices, and support small businesses as well. Not to mention the new relationships and alliances you will be forming. 

Planning an event? Browse eSpeakers’ comprehensive speaker directory, and reach out to us to get started getting the perfect speaker on your keynote stage!

5. Nothing is free…but social media is.

Save huge on your marketing budget by using free social media to its full effect. There are some amazing things being done with marketing on social media platforms these days, get online and look at some other events to see what they have done and to get inspiration. 

You can also use social media platforms in-event to get your attendees interacting with each other. Twitter is a great free platform to get people talking. Create a hashtag for your event and get posting.

If you can, dedicate a staff member or volunteer to be in charge of your social media campaigns. It will be worth it when you see the buzz and attention a little social media activity can create.

6. Trim food costs.

There are all kinds of ways to save money on your food budget. 

Going with a buffet instead of a sit-down table service is a great way to reduce costs, as is offering a simple drinks menu instead of a full bar, which can get very expensive.

Save money by eliminating afternoon sandwiches or cheese platters and keep it simpler and healthier with fruit and vegetable trays. 

Another option is finding a local caterer or restaurant that will offer a reduced rate in exchange for a high profile at your event.

7. Hire a speaker’s bureau.

Last but not least, hiring a speaker’s bureau is a great way to save money when you’re planning an event. 

A speaker’s bureau can eliminate all of the time-consuming legwork involved in securing a great speaker, and they have the experience and connections to negotiate the best deal possible for you. 

Consider eSpeakers when you’re planning your next event. 

Contact us to get started finding the perfect speakers who will make your events unforgettable!

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