For legendary quarterback Peyton Manning to be limited to a single scoring drive of any kind during the Stupor Bowl is somewhat tantamount to Dame Judi Dench taking the West End stage in her early career triumph as Ophelia in Hamlet, reciting “himself the primrose path of dalliance treads” and then forgetting the rest of her lines. Any event large or small is subject to a multitude of unknown factors which can turn any much anticipated production into a miserable dud, but there are some actions producers can take.

The Super Bowl proved the prognosticators wrong

The big game showed the prognosticators just how wrong they could be. The scheduling of the game in northern New Jersey in early February during a winter which has been known for its frigid savagery had drawn severe criticism right up to game day when it turned out to be weather more suitable for a crisp autumn evening than a cryogenic deep freeze Snow Bowl. The forecasts were not diametrically incorrect only as to the temperature, but also for the competitiveness of the game. Both the Broncos and the Seahawks had played stellar seasons, and Peyton Manning had been named the season’s MVP. To the chagrin bordering on shock of both Broncos and Seahawks fans alike, the Denver team seemed to have missed the plane from the Mile High City. Manning and the high powered Broncos offense misfired so badly that if they had waited another couple of seconds for their only scoring drive they would have been blanked out in the entire first three quarters and ended up getting outscored by 35 points.

Commish Goodell couldn’t apologize but you can

Although NFL Commissioner Goodell couldn’t exactly step down from the stands onto the field and apologize to Broncos fans and anyone else tuning in to see a hard-fought battle, that action actually is an option which is open to most event producers. If your event totally runs off the rails, don’t hesitate to shoo everyone off stage and deliver a personal apology. That apology may have to be backed up by at least a partial (if not outright full) refund, but it’s far preferable to take a hit to the bank account than have your reputation as a credible event producer demolished.

Change the lineup at the first sign of trouble

Short of the apocalyptic decision to literally stop the event and provide refunds, there are other actions which can be taken that are not quite so draconian. You should be prepared to step in and change around the lineup if you see that there is trouble brewing. Perhaps the next presenter has shown up inebriated or otherwise unfocused. You’re best off to shuffle the presentation to leave them in the green room than letting them get on stage and dynamite your entire event. If you were unable to catch that presenter before they made their public appearance, then a slightly altered version of the famous “hook” used to pull bombing vaudeville acts off stage may be called for. Simply have the host cut them off in mid-sentence and quickly guide the presentation onto its next presenter.

Outside factors can force an event’s cancellation

Sometimes the duddery is evident before the event even starts, and the producer has to maintain as unbiased a perspective as possible in order to make the right decisions. If your 1,000 seat event has 990 seats still available a week after they’ve gone on sale, you might be best advised to pull the plug right there and then in order to avoid your entire organization the embarrassment of presenting to a venue full of empty chairs. Outside factors can also call for an event’s cancellation. It goes without saying that if there is a huge winter storm or hurricane forecast to hit your city on the date of your event you should hit the cancel button, but the same applies to transport strikes, urban unrest, or even the demonstrations surrounding a controversial event occurring elsewhere in the city.

Don’t placidly accept a dud event like SB XLVIII, act quickly and decisively to protect your reputation!