5 Event Planning Skills You Need for Success
Skills You Must Have to Be an Event Planner
If you are contemplating a career as an event planner, whether that be with an event planning company, in an event planning position within a corporate organization, or starting your own event planning business, it is smart to make sure that the event planner job is a good fit. In addition to learning the ins and outs of event planning and what the work requires, it is equally as important to be sure you have the event planning skills you need for success.
The most successful event planners have a toolbox filled with an impressive skillset. Of those, these are the top 5 event planning skills you will reach for on a regular basis and the ones that can make or break your success.
5 Event Planning Skills You Need
In event planning, success is in the details. And there are many of them! Keeping track of numerous tasks, multiple vendors, and constantly changing to-do lists all at once – while keeping your client happy -- can be challenging for some and daunting for others. Being highly organized is a must for successful event planning. For those who make and manage to-lists to keep their personal lives running smoothly, being organized may come naturally. For others who struggle to remember deadlines or to pick up the dry cleaning, being organized may require more effort.
Event planners may manage one event at a time or be in the planning stages of multiple events simultaneously. Some events, such as annual conferences, take more than a year of planning so event planners must stay organized over the long haul.
Organizational tools for event planners abound, from software that tracks registration to templates for forms and spreadsheets. An event planning checklist that is customized for each event is one of the most valuable event planning tools regardless of your natural organizational ability. So figure out an organizational system that works for you because this is one of the most important event planning skills you can have.
What do all events have in common? People! Who do you interact with and work with in the process of planning events? People! Successful event planners are personable, engaging, good conversationalists and excellent listeners. Event planning is a very social profession in that the end result – the event itself – is or a group of people, large or small. Understanding people and enjoying talking to them are part of the job. This does not mean that, as an event planner, you will spend most of your day out at client lunches and having cocktails at social events.
Not at all. Event planning is hard work and much of it is spent at a desk with a phone or computer. But being personable is a must when tackling one of these common event planning tasks:
- Negotiating with hotels
- Discussing menus with catering managers
- Meeting with vendors
- Pitching your event ideas to a prospective client
- Networking anytime and anywhere
- Supervising event staff
- Working your event and interacting with guests and workers
After all, in day-to-day life, most of us remember the pleasant, helpful people we interact with and that interaction can make an experience that much more enjoyable for both parties. Knowing how to relate to different personalities, how to connect with someone whom you want to do business with and being someone that makes a positive impression are keys to success so consider this one of those essential event planning skills. No one wants to work with or assist someone who is difficult to talk to, hard to understand or rude and unprofessional in any way.
Excellent Communicator (Which Includes Listening!)
Excellent communication skills are essential in many professions. In event planning, miscommunication can result in numerous problems for both the event planner and the client, and a simple misunderstanding can have catastrophic results. Being able to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas is a very practical skill that is used on a day-to-day basis by event planners of all experience levels. Here are a few examples of how these event planning skills are used when planning events:
- writing event proposals for a prospective client
- creating materials to market your firm
- writing contracts with clients and vendors
- drafting thank you notes to guest speakers and VIPs
- ability to explain the scope and purpose of an event
- effectively communicating your ideas to a supervisor, client or vendor
- understanding and processing information that is provided, such as the concerns of a client or questions from a caterer
- skillfully negotiating hotel rates, contract details, or extras from a vendor
Successful event planners have ideas. Lots of them. And with that creativity, the ability to transform the idea into something tangible. They can take a vision and bring it to life. From developing a unique theme for a party to coming up with an affordable decorating solution that meets a small budget, creativity is essential when planning an event.
Creativity also comes into play when facing the inevitable problems that arise during even the most diligently, professionally planned event. In this scenario, creativity takes shape in the form of problem-solving. Being able to think creatively to develop solutions to problems can positively impact the success of your event.
At various stages of the event planning process, there are numerous tasks being managed. You may be negotiating a hotel contract, meeting with the client to discuss potential guest speakers, booking a caterer, interviewing rental vendors and exploring entertainment options. And that is just for one event. Add multiple events in the planning stages all at once, and the result is a juggling act. Successful event planners need to know how to effectively multitask and keep many aspects of the event moving along simultaneously without any of those tasks falling by the wayside.
Success lies in the ability to prioritize and focus on each task in that priority order without becoming distracted by other things that need tending to or becoming overwhelmed by the numerous things that need your attention. Staying calm, focused and flexible are attributes of the successful multitasker.