15 Essential Event Planning Skills for Those Looking to Break into the Industry

Hannah Tow
Hannah Tow  |  July 24, 2019

Jack of all trades? Absolutely. Master at none? Not quite…

Event planners are notorious for being multitasking geniuses. No matter the task they’re dealt, they always seem to accomplish it without missing a beat.

Just think about every little detail that goes into event planning. From handling the most ridiculous requests from clients to juggling all of the third-party vendors and so much more.

Event planners always find a method to the madness.

Great event planners should constantly refine and improve their skillset. It’s the best way to master their craft and stand out from the competition.

15 event planning skills you need to have

This comprehensive list of skills encompasses what every great event planner should possess if they wish to yield any amount of success in the industry.

Although some of these skills are a no brainer, there are others that might completely surprise you. This article will walk you through the most necessary skills to have for any type of job in the event industry.

Organization

This is the most important skill any event planner should possess. Each event has thousands of moving parts, and if you take into account that you could be in charge of a handful of events at once, it is imperative that your organizational skills are top-notch. Ensuring that any ordering, invoicing, meetings, and all the other details are initiated and executed at the proper time will take immensely organized and detailed planning.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be checked off pre-event. Take a look at G2’s ultimate event planning guide. Our comprehensive checklist will guarantee not a single step is missed!

Don't miss a step you'll regret: Download the top event-planning checklist.  Get my checklist, FREE →

Creativity

This one is obvious. Creativity is crucial. The ability to wow and engage event guests and clients in a creative way is the whole point of the job. Anyone can book a venue, hire caterers, and confirm entertainment, but event planners take those elements to a new level that wows attendees. The ability to transform spaces and ideas into something greater is not a skill that is easily learned, but it is necessary. This ability is the reason event planning is a career in the first place!

TIP: Creativity is needed for every step in the event planning process! Try out an event program template to get your creative juices flowing for your next event.

Communication

Being comfortable following up with not only your clients, but every third party vendor and team you work with is necessary to ensure you are aware of every project and plan. On top of being comfortable with communicating with many different people throughout the day, you must also be strong at conveying messages and orders in a manner that appeals to everyone. Having the role as an event planner means that you are the leader of the event and in charge of how it is executed. Strong communication with a personable manner ensures you don’t lose sight of anything, including your team’s actions.

Adaptability

Having the ability to be adaptable in any situation, particularly when that situation is very high stress and high risk is all part of the job. As an event planner, you must think quickly on your feet and pivot when problems arise. Things will deviate from your meticulously thought out checklist; it’s a fact of any event. How you respond when it does will make or break your event, and ultimately your reputation in the industry. Adapt to any new progressions, problems, or changes quickly, and always have a “plan B” ready.

Dedication to customer service

Planning an event is all about the people the event is for. Unless of course, it is your event! An event planner’s most important job is to always keep the client in mind. Remember, it is the client’s event, vision, and budget, so no matter how much you may disagree with a certain decision you must go along with it. Your main job is to provide recommendations, support, and the ability to execute their wishes. Dedicate yourself to your client’s happiness and experience throughout the entire process, and make sure at the end of the day they are thrilled with the way their event turned out.

Attention to detail

Implementing intricate details is what makes an event go from average to extraordinary, and it is up to the event planner to think about it in every aspect of design and execution. Remember what we said about it being the client’s event? And you should always follow the client’s vision? While that’s still true, the details are what the average person isn’t necessarily thinking of and why an event planner was hired in the first place! The creativity, passion, and out of the box thinking that great event planners have transforms events, and it is all about the attention to detail.

TIP: Want to learn how to make your event memorable? Learn 8 practical tips to help get you started!

Budgeting

An important piece of information to never forget is that you are planning an event with someone else’s money. Budgeting and money management skills are imperative in the event industry. It’s so easy to be nickeled and dimed at every corner, and unnecessary fees and purchases will add up quickly if you’re not on your A-game. Be frugal, be smart. This is not your money.

Negotiation skills

Whether you like it or not, negotiating contracts will be a major part of your job as an event planner. Venues, entertainment, food, your services, and more! You name it, it will probably have to be negotiated. Having the skills to do so effectively is what will make the difference between an average event planner and a spectacular one, and if you can consistently negotiate contracts in your clients’ favor, then you are well on your way to referrals and rehires.

Multitasking

As stated at the very beginning of this article, event planners are multitasking geniuses. Juggling multiple projects, deadlines, and assignments at once is all part of the job and essential for event success. Think about all the moving parts that take place at just one event. It’s the event planner’s job to orchestrate every detail to ensure it all comes together on event day. Staying on your toes, anticipating what has to take place next, and following up and through with your team is the name of the chaotic event game.

Leadership

By now, you should be aware of the amount of responsibility an event planner has. With immense responsibility comes a need for leadership and delegation. Directing multiple teams composed of differing jobs and personalities is not an easy task, and it’s not for someone who cannot confidently lead. Leadership is a trait that comes naturally to many people, but for those who do not feel comfortable doing so will definitely have to work hard on the skill to improve.

Think of an event planner like a conductor in an orchestra. The conductor is leading the orchestra as one, while still directing and helping each individual section. The members of the orchestra look to the conductor often for cues and commands, and would slowly but surely, depending on the skill of the orchestra, fail without him. Event planning is one in the same, but the conductor in this case is the event planner.

The important event planning skills that they don’t tell you about

True learning is done best through experience. Diving in headfirst, not being afraid to fail, and picking up as many skills as you can along the way is the best way to become excellent at anything.

It takes time. Greatness isn’t built overnight.

It’s true, and no matter what the situation may be, absorbing wisdom from those who are far more experienced and wiser than you proves to be an unparalleled way of learning.

Although the skills we previously went over are a fantastic foundation every event planner should possess, you’re definitely going to want to hear the nitty-gritty advice from those who were once in your shoes.

To get you on the fast track for success, I asked experienced event planners who know a thing or two about what it really takes to be successful in the industry.

Here’s what they had to say:

Emotional detachment

"This is the skill needed that’s needed most when things are not going to plan. How you handle the situation sets the pace and tone for resolution of the problem. Keeping your emotions under control is essential in managing an event. Showing anger, frustration, and blame doesn't get the problem solved, nor does it motivate the teams that are working hard for you.”

- Marla Harr, Founder & CEO, Business Etiquette International

Understand that it’s what the client wants, not what you want

“At the first meeting with the client, the event planners should ask as many questions as possible to draw a ‘perfect event’ picture in their heads so they have a clear understanding of exactly how the client imagines the event.

In other words, event planners need to focus on the clients’ needs and understand what they truly want. It’s even more than reading someone’s thoughts. As a result, the event is successfully planned and run according to the vision and expectations of the client, even if it doesn’t match with the vision and ideas of the professional planner.”

- Anna Bessonowa, Director of Operations, Magic Day Luxury Experiences

Handle difficult people with ease

“Having the ability to deal with and manage a huge range of personalities, including the most difficult types, like those who are panicking, highly strung, or just downright dramatic without offending them or letting them suck all your time and energy. When everyone else is panicking, this is a skill that all successful event planners either naturally possess, or develop very quickly.”

- Polly Kay, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, English Blinds

Never stop learning

“The event industry is constantly evolving, and it's a necessity to learn on-the-go. Trust me, managing events becomes a lot easier if you have a willingness to learn and can do it quickly. Listening, absorbing, and applying knowledge in the moment makes you a highly valuable team member that is always attentive to the little details.”

- Christine McDowell, Event Marketing Manager, Seismic 

Optimism

“There is no such thing as a perfect event. If something goes wrong, it is your job as an event planner to stay calm and think of the best possible solutions. The last thing the team needs during a time of distress is a negative leader who can only see the major problems and is unable to find ways to get to the solutions. You must lead by example and always look at the positives. The right attitude will keep your team on track and in the right mindset.”

- Elandas Miller, Founder & CEO, Kicking It Sports 

TIP: Planning an event is a lot of work. Check out the best event management platforms to help you keep every little detail organized and on track. 

See the Easiest-to-Use Event Management Platforms →

Keep refining your skills

If one thing is clear, it’s that the event industry is evolving at a very fast pace. Successful event planners are able to keep up because they never stop learning and building upon their skills. Having a strong foundation composed of the core competencies listed in this article will set you up for success. Just remember, to always ask questions and learn from those more experienced than you as It will be the edge that sets you apart in the industry.

Are you curious to learn more about event planning techniques? Take a look at the best social media ideas for events here!

Hannah Tow
Author

Hannah Tow

Hannah is a Content Marketing Associate at G2. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Journalism and is very happy to be working in her favorite city, Chicago. In her free time, Hannah enjoys running with her dog, Teddy, traveling to new and exciting places, and capturing the beautiful places she travels to with her DSLR camera.