Friday 30 October 2015

A Murphy's Law Corollary: You Will Need a Plan B When You Don't Have One

Yesterday I gave a webinar hosted by the Change Management Institute. Everything was set for a great session until the power went out at my office three hours before the 12 noon start. Suddenly, everything was not as set.

I still had three hours, I assured myself. Even so, I assessed the situation. I couldn't get access to my presentation because it was trapped on my hard drive. Not good. I had sent a copy to the organizing team a week ago, but it didn't include my final changes.

My laptop was fully charged, but without internet access it was not of help. Not good. I needed a back up location to give my talk. 

Options included Starbucks, a local library and a friend's home. My friend's home was the only one that would be quiet and without distractions. Luckily she was home and open to hosting a webinar leader.

The power was still out at 11:00 am so I enacted Plan B and drove to my friend's home.I downloaded my older presentation from my Gmail account and was able to make the changes before participants signed into the webinar. The session began on time and went without a hitch.

After my adrenaline levels dropped to normal, I did a post analysis. With no Plan B I had added risk to my life and those of my partners. What surprised me was that I usually create a backup plan that includes contingencies for the 'what ifs' that can hamper a session. Why didn't I do so this time? 

Here are the steps I usually take:

  • Write the presentation at least two weeks beforehand (in case I get sick or need to manage unplanned commitments)
  • Schedule a dry run session the week before to test technology and content flow 
  • Ask "What could go wrong?" and identify a fallback solution for each answer
  • Have a backup source of connectivity (e.g. laptop) turned on and ready to be used
  • Email my presentation to me and my partners the night before
  • Load my presentation onto a USB memory stick as an additional backup

Next week I am presenting another webinar. I now have scheduled time to create my Plan B. Also, all future speaking engagements have similar preparation sessions booked in my calendar. I have vowed not to forget Murphy's Law again. 


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