IPENZ Transportation Group Conference - Day 2
One of my favourite things about working on conferences is the unpredictability. It doesn't matter how fantastically organised your Conference Organiser is (and Harding Consultants are on top of everything) there are some things you just can't control. Dealing with those uncontrollable things is one of the most satisfying parts of the job - taking a moment that could potentially de-rail things and turning it into a highlight.
For the 2013 version of this same conference our dinner was at Larnach Castle in Dunedin.The evening was going well and we were just about to launch into awards when there was a fire drill. Everyone filed out onto the front lawn on a crisp, but fine, Dunedin night. It was then we realised that a fire engine would need to come from Dunedin and it would be a good 40 minutes. So, dressed as a wizard and by the light of several cell-phone flash-lights we held the awards outdoors.
In 2014 the fire alarm came on the first morning, just as the delegates had sat down to kick things off. So we all headed out onto a beautiful Queen's Wharf where we, once again, improvised an outdoor conference opening before being given the clear to go back inside. No time was lost in the day's programme and everyone is wondering when we will "stage" the fire alarm in 2015!
Its those things, and how you handle them that make for memorable moments. So many things "just happen" as far as delegates are concerned at a well run conference. Its when the wheels fall off a little due to unforseen circumstances that they really get to appreciate what happens beneath the surface and it always surprises and delights them. These are the moments that you genuinely can't script but they are some of the moments where I really feel that 24 years of improvisation experience mean I can add some real value.
Although I really need to learn how to take a better selfie!