Murphy's Law on the Show Floor

by Erin Micozzi

Woman getting rained on and another getting sunshine

Murphy's Law on the Show Floor

May 24, 2017

As someone who has been to many an exhibit, conference, meeting and networking event, I can say without a doubt that something unexpected will happen.

Yes, of course something unexpected will happen, you might think… isn’t that half of the reason we go to such events? To meet new people, experience new things, and professionally develop our careers?

Absolutely. However, the unexpected I am referring to, is the “unfortunate thing” that we never anticipated.

You know, that “thing” you spent months and months planning so that it never actually happened.

Well, look where that got you.

You see, I am a planner. It is in my nature, both personally and professionally to have every detail covered. I like to prepare for every possible scenario, and have a Plan A, B, C, and D. It seems so good in theory, until you actually start to execute, and realize there is only so much we can possibly control. As an exhibitor on the show floor for many years, I have seen it all… monitors falling off walls, equipment being damaged on the road, intestinal distress preventing a colleague from presenting a talk he had been anticipating for months. You name it, I have seen it. And there is only one explanation for it: Murphy’s Law.

By definition, Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

That may seem extreme to some, but it doesn’t always have to be so dramatic. Did the shipping team expect a hurricane to damage equipment? Did my colleague plan to acquire a bout of food poisoning from a local restaurant the night before his flight? Absolutely not.

These experiences have taught me that we can only plan for so much. We can take every humanly possible step to avoid unfortunate incidents before exhibiting, but there are outside forces that we are up against, that we simply cannot control.

I have found that rather than plan and plan to prevent every possible scenario from happening, it is better to plan that something can and will “go wrong”. Embrace it. Once we fully accept that concept, we are better prepared when the universe throws us a curveball. Which it will. Time and time again.

Reflecting back to all of these “unfortunate things” is what gives me confidence with every new client and project. With each unexpected event, I have been forced to adapt and find new solutions.

  • When the monitor was damaged in transit, I called multiple rental companies to secure new equipment, and made some great connections with local vendors.
  • When my colleague fell ill and had to miss his flight, I stepped in with his slides, and gave one of the best presentations of my career. These events have allowed me to flex my creative problem solving muscle, and have made me a stronger planner than I ever was before.

So the next time you are preparing for a business trip or conference, my advice to you is to remember Murphy’s Law. Expect the unexpected, and trust that you will come out stronger on the other side. Just keep your eye on the weather report, and avoid gas station sushi…. Let’s not go asking for trouble from Murphy or anyone else for that matter.


Erin Micozzi is the Director of Client Services at ARK and is well prepared to meet Murphy’s Law with grace and grit.