Want to level up your event planning skills? Event management is a competitive industry, and there are many different event management skills you’ll need in order to thrive in your career. When your event could involve juggling live performances, technology, food service, and large groups of people — whether in-person or virtual — you’ll definitely need to be ready to wear many hats.
Intrigued? Then read on to learn the top 10 skills an event manager should have:
1. People skills
The number one quality shared by successful event managers is people skills. You need to be comfortable connecting with high-level executives, government officials, vendors, co-workers, sponsor reps, customers, supervisors, suppliers, staff, and event attendees. To successfully work with this wide range of people, you’ll need to be able to nimbly resolve conflicts, be a confident but pleasant negotiator, and maintain your sense of humor.
Remember — try to have fun with the work you do, and the people you work with, and they’ll want to work with you again. You can’t do it all by yourself, so building relationships is key.
Event managers often double as janitors and (metaphorical) firemen. Cleaning up messes and putting out fires — quickly, quietly, and efficiently — is part of the job. You also have to know how to pivot and organize online events when, say, a pandemic hits and venues close. Stay calm, get it done, then get back to running the show.
To successfully run any event, you need to be able to do about 50 things at once. This multi-tasking prowess is one of the key skills for event management, required for both smooth planning and flawless execution of an event. The best planners have foolproof systems, step-by-step checklists, and handy tech tools. Working in events requires the ability to focus on the big picture while keeping track of all the little details. To avoid burnout, get comfortable delegating some of your more time-consuming tasks. And if things don’t go according to plan, don’t be afraid to switch to Plan B.
4. Listening skills
The ability to understand what key stakeholders want from your event is critical. These folks may not be in the event industry, so they might not speak the lingo or know what’s realistic. You have to be able to discern their needs and make sure all parties share the same expectations. Pay attention to what’s said — and what’s not said — in key conversations. Tapping into these spoken (and unspoken) needs throughout your planning process will help you stay one step ahead.
With all the stress of being an event planner, it’s important to really love what you do. Genuine passion helps you overcome bumps in the road and stay cool when all seems lost. It also leads to bursts of creativity and productivity, as opposed to just trying to get through the day. Things like time management can be learned, but you can’t teach passion. Being an event manager can, at times, be a thankless job, so it needs to be about more than just a paycheck for you.
6. Clear communication
Clear, firm, and kind communication establishes you as a leader of the team, keeps everyone on track, and ensures that the goals of the event are clear to everyone involved. It also allows you to effectively share your vision and get other people excited about it, too. Communicate in a way that is respectful to everyone and doesn’t put anyone down. Accept criticism and be open to new ideas. Everyone plays a part in the success of an event, so make sure you’re communicating with them in a clear, confident, and empowering way.
Your team will look to you for answers to almost everything. In moments of stress, the last thing they need is a shaky leader who makes poor decisions because they’re cracking under pressure. Successful event managers stay level-headed and continue to treat everyone with respect, no matter what. Try to remain cool, calm, and collected when dealing with other people, even if you’re a bundle of nerves inside.
8. Problem-solving skills
Whether it’s tracking down some emergency duct tape or reworking a keynote presentation at the last minute, you have to be resourceful with what you have. No matter how well you plan, something will go wrong. And it will be a lot easier to address if you enjoy finding creative solutions to the challenges that arise.
Event managers need to be able to make several decisions at once and make them quickly. And, perhaps more importantly, they need to be able to recognize when it’s too late to change those decisions — and have the resolve to stand by them.
It will be a lot easier for people to trust you if you have a significant amount of experience because there’s no better way to learn than by doing. And your job will be easier for you once you’ve seen the range of challenges an event can throw at you. Plus, the experienced manager has a network of trusted professionals to call on when things get tough. If you don’t have a ton of knowledge yet, getting a certificate or taking a course can help get you on your way.
As you can see, being an event organizer is a demanding — and rewarding — career. If all this sounds like you were made for it, then maybe it’s time for you to get started.