5 Event-Planning Skills You Need for Success

Wedding planners collaboration
Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

If you are contemplating a career as an event planner, either as an independent entity or with an event-planning company, make sure you're a good fit for the role. The most successful event planners have an impressive skill set. Below are five event-planning skills you will reach for on a regular basis. These skills can make or break your success.

Event Planners Are Highly Organized

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-do lists in their personal lives, 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 project is one of the most valuable tools you can have, regardless of your natural organizational ability.

Figure out an organizational system that works best for you because being organized is critical for an event-planning career.

Event Planners Are Personable

What do all events have in common? People. Successful event planners are personable, engaging, good conversationalists, and excellent listeners. Event planning is a social profession in that the result – the event itself – will include a group of people, large or small. Understanding people and enjoying talking to them is part of the job.

This does not mean that, as an event planner, you will spend most of your day at client lunches and having cocktails at social events. Event planning is hard work, and much of it is spent at a desk with a phone or computer; however, a personable demeanor 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

In daily life, most of us remember the pleasant, helpful people with whom we interact, and that interaction can make an experience much more constructive for both parties. Knowing how to relate to different personalities, how to connect with someone, and making a positive impression are keys to success. 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, so consider being personable an essential event-planning skill.

Listen and Communicate Clearly

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. Therefore, the ability to listen is crucial so that you understand the needs of the client.

Here are a few examples of communications and how these event-planning skills are used when planning events:

Written communication:

  • Writing event proposals for a prospective client
  • Creating materials to market your firm
  • Writing contracts for clients and vendors
  • Drafting thank you notes to guest speakers and VIPs

Verbal communication:

  • The 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, contact details, or extras from a vendor

Event Planners Are Creative

Successful event planners have ideas – lots of them. And with that creativity comes the ability to transform the idea into something tangible. Event planners 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 plays a role in problem-solving. Being able to think creatively to develop solutions to problems can positively impact the success of your event.

Event Planners Are Multitaskers

At various stages of the event-planning process, there are numerous tasks to manage. You may be negotiating a hotel contract, meeting with a 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 end 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 dropping the ball on any of those tasks.

Success in event planning lies in the ability to prioritize and focus on each task without becoming distracted by other things or becoming overwhelmed by the numerous details that need your attention. Staying calm, focused, and flexible are attributes of the successful multitasker.