How to deal with your Steve Harvey moment



Remember Steve Harvey? In case you don’t, he is the television personality who made global headlines for announcing the wrong winner of the Miss Universe 2015 pageant. He initially called Miss Colombia as the winner because of a communication error with his producer.

Realizing his error, he went back onto the stage, apologized for the mistake and gave the crown to the rightful owner. Millions around the world including me had a good chuckle at Steve Harvey’s expense over his gaffe. Little did I know that I too would be a victim of similar circumstances.

The Event

Last week, I experienced my very own Steve Harvey moment. I was the master of ceremonies for the Ghana Hotels Association Awards Night. It was a glamorous event where players in the hotel industry, executives from corporate Ghana and government officials met to wine and dine and celebrate winners in the hospitality industry. The event started on time with two speeches and then it was time for dinner.

The Problem

The awards were originally scheduled to be presented after dinner in three batches. However the time for eating took longer than expected. To make up for lost time, I decided that we present the first two batches of awards together in one block. We would then break for dancing and then come back to present the final set of awards. This meant the awards would now be presented in two batches instead of three.

This new plan worked smoothly until I called up a presenter to award the winner in a particular category but gave her an envelope with the wrong name in it. I only realized my mistake right after she had opened the envelope announced the ‘winner’. For a minute or two, my mind was blank. I was mute with shock.

The Resolution

When I found my tongue, I breathed in deeply and announced “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry but we’ve just had a Steve Harvey moment.” There was silence as I felt the gaze of three hundred pairs of eyes all looking at me. I immediately apologized for the mistake and asked the audience to hold me responsible for handing over the wrong envelope to the award presenter.

You can only imagine my relief as I heard the sound of applause which greeted these words. With the applause still ringing around the hall, I found the right envelope and gave it to the presenter. She opened it and this time she announced the right winner.

What to Remember

A mistake can happen at any time. If it can happen to an experienced world-class master of ceremonies like Steve Harvey, it can happen to you as well. The best way to deal with a mistake is to first recognize it. Then take responsibility immediately (Steve Harvey’s producers wanted him to apologize the next day but he refused). Finally make sure you rectify the situation.

People respect you when you are open about your mistakes. Sometimes they even reward your honesty. After all Steve Harvey was invited back to host Miss Universe 2016. I hope the Ghana Hotels Association too will call me back next year!

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