It happens – something comes up and you can’t make it to the panel. You have a screaming deadline at work, a sick child, or you’ve got the flu. Life happens and you just can’t (or shouldn’t) attend.
If something comes up and you cannot make it to the event, let the organizers know as soon as possible. Reach out to them by email, phone, or any other communication method they provided you with. Do not give up until you have made a connection to provide as much notice as possible so they have time to make alternative arrangements.
In your message, be sure to apologize for any inconvenience caused and explain the reason why you will not be able to attend. If you know of someone who could potentially replace you on the panel, you can suggest their name to the organizers. This will be especially helpful if the panel requires a certain level of expertise or experience that your replacement can provide.
You might have talked about the possibility that you cannot make it in your initial call—in which case you will have a better idea of the best communication method, their flexibility to accommodate an emergency, and backup plans. The meeting organizer may have a standby panelist, or they have put enough people on the panel should one drop out, it is not a big deal. However, you just never know.
Finally, follow up with the meeting organizer and panel moderator after the event to see how everything went and to express your gratitude for the opportunity and their flexibility. This will help maintain a positive relationship with them, and potentially open up future opportunities for collaboration.
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