Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » Be Prepared for Anything

Be Prepared for Anything


Last weekend was a fascinating time of contrasting events.

It was the first time I’ve ever done two events in one weekend, and the events themselves couldn’t have been more different.

One was in a traditional church. One was in a very contemporary church.

One was in a church were response is quiet. One was in a church that’s demonstrative.

One was a fairly new kind of event for the group. One had lots of similar events under their belt.

The wonderful thing to see was how both events were equally awesome. Jesus showed up and did His work in both places, and you just can’t beat Jesus at work no matter the setting!

One lesson I re-learned in doing both events is to be ready for anything.

You girls know that I’m releasing a book in July called Breaking Up with Perfect, which is about our journey to let go of our own ideas about “Perfect”. (Here’s a sneak peek!)

book cover

My ideas of perfection have also extended into women’s events, but the more I see success in contrasting events, the more I understand the importance of appreciating differences instead of clinging to my own narrow view.

Also, this new-to-me flexibility has helped me to go with the flow even when things go wrong at an event. After all, there are no perfect people, so there are no perfect events!

It has helped me to be gracious when:

  • Someone introduces me by the wrong name.
  • The tech people can’t figure out how to integrate my technology with theirs.
  • The batteries die in the sound pack.
  • Breakout leaders are confused because they haven’t been given the questions I sent.
  • I feel like I’m falling off a cliff every time my high-heel gets caught in a tiny crack in the stage, and I flail my arms around like I’m falling 1000 ft.
  • An insect is crawling up my arm & the audience is watching the bug instead of listening to me. (This has actually happened at two separate events–once with a stink bug & once with a spider!!)

These are all things that have happened to me over the years, and I’ve learned to deal with them with increasing patience and humor. I’m a mess, but I’m growing!

Here are a few tips for handling the things that inevitably go wrong during an event:

  • Send your technology ahead so the team can give it a trial run. I usually send links from files in DropBox.
  • Write an introduction to give to the event planner. I let them know that’s it’s optional, but usually it’s a relief to her to have the help.
  • Bring some emergency supplies: batteries, skin-colored tape (for those over-the-ear mics that just won’t stay in place), an extra copy of all your handouts and discussion questions, insect spray (just kidding!)
  • Carry along an extra pair of shoes. Seriously. I’ve started carrying flats to every event in case of emergency (like catching heels) or simple foot fatigue.
  • Make sure to arrive overflowing with Jesus and with your sense of humor intact. (Sometime I’ll tell you how that stink bug actually saved me as I was sinking.)

[Tweet “When the inevitable happens and something goes wrong, we need to be prepared to respond with grace.”]

I’d love to hear your funny stories of things that have gone wrong and your tips to be ready in every circumstance!

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  1. I’m playing catch up on some posts I missed last year. I’m curious, how did you handle the bugs crawling on you? I’m afraid I’d freak out, but I’d love to know how to gracefully handle something like that.

    1. I think that I was so in the moment that I didn’t freak out until I thought about it later! A friend squooshed the spider, and I thumped the stink bug off. Both times I just kept going and got the “heebie jeebies” later. 🙂

  2. Hi Amy 🙂

    I love this post! I just had a speaker nightmare happen this weekend. I’ve been struggling with a cold, and tried to be super careful with asking people to pray, loading up on cold medicine, and tucking cough drops in my pocket. During my Friday night message (at a weekend retreat), about half way into my story, I suddenly had a desperate need to cough. And cough. And cough. It was horrible!
    Thankfully I was able to make a joke about it, asked the emcee (who I could see in the back of the room) if she had a joke to share, and while I chomped on a piece of gum someone brought me on the stage, I shared, “Well, this is awkward.” Thankfully the emcee joined me on the stage, and used the time to pray a nice long prayer while I hacked my cough out, and I could finish my talk. Overall it seemed dreadful at the time, but I think God used it to build a bridge to the women and made me seem real and genuine. And like my girlfriend said later, “It could have been worse, Cindy. At least you didn’t pee on yourself while coughing.” LOL!

    1. Oh! I’m sorry that happened, but what your friend said is so true and HILARIOUS. I remember my aunt telling me years ago about a speaker at a convention where she attended who opened her mouth to speak and threw up. That might beat all our stories!!