Oh my, the Oscars – the glitter, the glam, the stars, the lights, and last but certainly not least, the SHOES – it’s an evening that is well planned and well executed each year. Yes, you know where I am going here, for even Oscar has a few blemishes and we all witnessed it last Sunday eve. As Meeting Professionals, we all have something to learn from Envelope Gate, here are my takeaways:
- Contain the Damage Before it is Too Late: How heartbreaking it was to watch an excited La La Land cast be let go after they had already started their acceptance speech. If you know a huge mistake has been made, intervene fast as the damage will turn into drama and more drama with every second that goes by.
- Prepare your Presenters for the Worst: Warren Beatty did his best, but he was not reactive in any way. He should have stopped the ceremony and called someone, but did he even know who to call? While we all love Warren Beatty, such an important moment required that he be a better-briefed presenter. An on the spot improvisation, during such an iconic moment, would place anyone in a tough situation. The lesson here is to brief presenters ahead of time on who to call or what to do in the event of any issue that may arise.
- Stay Calm: My heart goes out to the stage manager or the person who ultimately made the mistake. We are human, but since we are also professionals, it is of paramount importance that we remain calm. Behind the scenes of a disaster we will more than likely find a hyper-stressed, hyper-tense person. This person should also prepare ahead of time to have a plan for staying calm, much like flight attendants are prepared to do in the case of an emergency.
- Learn from Mistakes (and the mistakes of others): As we all know, the devil is in the details. While it may be easy to judge and point the finger, we are humans and mistakes happen. While the Oscars are an incredible and very structured event, it was also one that did not have a back up plan and definitely needs to add additional layers to the envelope management. Let’s all learn from this mistake so we do not make the same one at our events.
It can happen to any of us, but wow, how difficult it must be for it to happen during an event as “well attended” as the Oscars, the mother of all award ceremonies. So before you hand over your “envelope” – prepare, check and re-check, rehearse, have a back up plan and handle it all with grace. Apologize to those that require an apology, send flowers then, perhaps, more flowers, don’t hide – manage the situation.
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