As I write this short blog post, more than 12 events I have been scheduled to attend, speak at, and teach at have been cancelled.
Of all the events, only 1 (yup 1) asked me "What do you think we should do?" So, I thought I would summarize my short call.
Now, I'm not an expert, but I did speak at more than 200 events last year, spent more than 200 days in the air with minor illness so I feel somewhat qualified to offer a bit of advice amidst the pandemic panic etc. I don't plan on licking my tray table on the plane this week as I head out of town for work, but I have definitely implemented giving "elbows" (politely) to new friends and contacts. I've implemented the real handwashing (to be fair, until recently I don't think I have ever washed my hands correctly so there is that)
Like many of my fellow instructors, trainers and facilitators I have been watching the news- but having to travel during this time has been interesting. I'm still living my life (albeit getting more time at home)- but I'm surprised to see how many organizations are unable to pivot. This isn't the era of the plague- we have wifi, computers, and these cool phones that will still allow us to do video chats, live streams, and a bunch of WORK.
Here are 3 simple ways I'm choosing to look at and nurture my clients and partners through this time.
1. Ask your audience, make decisions, but don't forget to communicate. So many events aren't polling their audiences to see if they are coming or not. I just received a flurry of attendees from an event who were interested in my private session. I offered to do a private zoom online, to which 20 people have signed up for. They were upset that the event was cancelled, but I was too- since I found out from the attendees- and not the organizer.
2. Go Virtual. Tools like HeySummit were invented for a reason. Is it possible to use a simple tool like his to help give part of the experience to the attendees or even provide some of your event highlights or keynotes to keep people engaged for a later date? If so, evaluate it now. Communicate with your attendees and customers. I bet you could do some pretty killer Livestreams right now with amazing content if you scheduled it and got it out there. Perhaps, people have to learn how to deliver effective virtual programs. I'm not the expert, but Maureen Orey is.
3. Keep calm and carry on. I know it's scary for many of you. I'm not scared about the virus, I am scared at how people are responding. So, Costco ran out of toilet paper and water? No worries, I strolled into an Office Depot like a boss and got hand sanitizer, water, and everything else I needed, also Home Depot and even Ace Hardware have essentials. I'm going to keep working, attempting to be resilient and be hopeful that people turn to facts not feelings and the appropriate centers for disease control not Facebook for updates.
Don't worry the good news is it will work out or it won't.
Maresa Friedman is a Fortune 100 Strategist & Brand Narrative Speaker who is currently feeling the impact of event cancellations like many of her colleagues in the industry.