Top 5 Qualities of a Successful Event Manager
What are the qualities of a successful event manager? We asked professional event planners worldwide what you need to succeed as an event planner.
Do you have what it takes to make it in the event industry?
The work of an event planner is varied and demanding. There are lots of skills and traits which help to make the perfect event manager. Some things you are born with and other skills can be developed with experience.
Those that work in events every day are able to identify lots of characteristics which are good to have. But what are the 5 most important qualities? The qualities that are vital to succeed?
We asked members of the Event Planning and Event Management LinkedIn Group to share their thoughts on what it takes to really stand out and make it to the top. It revealed some really interesting thoughts and discussion. Some of this feedback is shared below.
Keep reading to the bottom of the post where we summarize all the responses received to share the final top 5 qualities of a successful event manager. And (spoiler) – it might not be what you think!
Kevin Jurczyk, National Marketing Director at Branstrator Sunrooms and Basement Systems of America
In my opinion, this is the most important. With years of experience in events, there is always something that requires a creative fix. Whether it be a piece of tape, or re-working a display because the display across the aisle looks too much like yours. You have to be very resourceful and use what you have and to pool together the individuals you need.
2. Excellent time management
The ability to coordinate not only yourself, but the scheduling of the entire team helping with the event. It’s all about planning, and re-planning and scheduling
Share your ideas and your vision openly with your team. Communicate on a level that is respectful to everyone. Do not talk down to anyone, regardless of their role. Everyone has their part and it ultimately leads to your success, make sure you communicate clearly and respectfully. Accept criticism and be open to new ideas.
Without passion you cannot over come the bumps and triumph when all seems lost. I can train time management, but I cannot teach passion.
5. Strong will, but a level head
You have to be able to carry out your vision and sometimes crack the whip to get it done. Resolve problems and issues quickly. And you must be able to stand calm at zero hour when something doesn’t go your way. Your team should look to you for everything, the last thing they need is a shaky leader that makes rash decisions because they crack under pressure.
Chris Donahue, Regional Technical Trainer at PSAV – Presentation Services
1. Excellent Time Management
2. Good Communicator
3. Attention to detail
4. Ability to creatively solve probelms
5. Staying calm at all times
Chris Catoggio, Independent Event Services Professional
Probably number 1 is great people skills. The Event Manager needs to be communicative, with the ability to listen and understand what the client is looking to achieve, as well as being able to convey that concept when selecting and negotiating with vendors.
Number 2 is organized. The event manager needs to coordinate a number of responsibilites and manage many teams simultaneously.
Third, an event manager needs to be flexible. In any event, things can and will change with a moments notice. The event manager needs to be able to, for lack of a better word, PUNT.
Fourth, an event manager must be responsible. Regardless of what goes right and what goes wrong, the success of an event, and all it’s coordinates, is the managers responsibility.
Fifth, a successful event manager needs to be enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. Enthusiasm and passion brings about creativity and generates excitement. Maybe, this should be #1!
David Schenberg, CEO, Busy Event – a div. of Panamedia
1. Treats everyone as a peer and with respect… even under pressure
2. A level of experience that allows the client to sleep at night
3. Ability to diffuse an explosive situation
4. Extensive network of trusted professionals they can count on
5. Active exploration and listening skills that translate into critical knowledge
Nicole Price, Event Guru, McCormick & Schmick’s says:
1. Flexibility with respect to understanding your customers’ needs
2. Strong organizational skills AND the ability to communicate them
3. Accessibility – to your customers and colleagues
4. Grace under fire!
5. Excellent, well-trained team to help implement and run the event
In a nutshell… able to achieve just about anything in a New York minute, while keeping a smile on my face, managing half a million other items at the same time and making it all look easy.
But it IS easy, right? That’s why we do what we do. 🙂
Kevin R. Johnston, CMP – CEO, Advantage Event Group
I think there are may attributes that are needed to be successful. Here are my Top 5:
1. Blackbelt Contract Negotiator. Ultimately, the event measurement is two fold, satisfaction and budget. A great event with superior satisfaction is often viewed as unsuccessful when the finances are all in
2. Must have a huge Rolodex – you need to be able to contact a master craftsman in all areas. Having the ability to assemble the right players that will deliver consistently is a must.
3. Must be respected. If a producer is not respected by his boss, peers and contractors, the results may be good, but never great.
4. Must double as a janitor or fireman. Often, dealing with cleaning up messes and putting out fires is part of the job. Quickly, quietly and efficiently. Get it done, then get bact to the task at hand.
5. Passionate. If it is just a job or a paycheck any event planner will be viewed as average. The passion to make it more productive, more exciting, more more more is what drives this business. Otherwise we’d all be eating on white table cloths with votive candles and parquet dance floors.
Dare to be different, take calculated risks and make sure that you have a great team that has your back (and you theirs).
Cher Lon Malik, Office Manager, Informatica
3. Flexibility – do not freak out – there will be last minute changes always
Rohit Kumar, Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University
You can’t do everything yourself. Ability to delegate through trusting people, setting benchmarks, sharing vision and establishing feedback channels.
Anuroopa Banerjee Gupta, Marketing Communications expert
1. Plans for the best but is well prepared for the worst and equipped to turn around the worst to the best advantage.
(I know of someone who was working on a tradeshow. She got the entire booth set up, which took until 3 am. When she arrived the next day, 30 minutes before showtime, she realized the Co-President’s profile shot poster has been posted in a manner that his nose got chopped off- She actually got a replacement 7ft x 3 ft poster mounted before the show – she had an extra poster)
2. Has excellent interpersonal skills
3. Is a great negotiator
4. Has excellent time management capabilities
5. Is a driven go-getter, self motivated and never crumbles under pressure
Tushar Panchal, Public Relations, Communications, Branding, Corporate Affairs
1. Get the brief right
2. Know your consumer
3. Work within budgets
4. Time is crucial
5. Never ever lose control
Michael Miller, Director of Sales & Marketing, Tiki’s Grill & Bar/Holokai Grill
1. Understanding and exceeding client goals
2. Plan and execute events so that guest enjoy being at the event
3. Follow through
4. Have a critical eye for details (before, during and after the event)
5. Ability to train and retain great staff.
Laura Rivas, Events and Sales Manager
1. Attention to details
2. Good organization skills
3. Flexibility to change
4. Excellent communicator
5. Diplomacy (with clients and vendors)
James Minella, Event Operations Director
I think, just like any position, each person has to identify their strong points and accentuate those assets while identifying their areas of improvement and addressing those on a daily basis. In general, I would say any successful Event Manager needs to:
1. Be extremely organized – overly so
2. Maintain a big picture philosophy at all times, meaning you work on every detail while keeping in perspective the larger impact and goal
3. Be a good – actually great – multi-tasker. To successfully run any program you are going need to ensure that 50 things are getting done at once, whether it’s in preparation or execution of the program.
4. Possess strong interpersonal skills. You need to be comfortable reacting to and dealing with high level executives, government officials, vendors, co-workers, sponsor representatives, customers, supervisors, suppliers, full-time staff, part-time staff, volunteers and more.
5. Be creative and flexible. I think these two go together because in the event business things are always changing. You must be flexible to develop a solution and a solution comes about as a result of your creativity.
Nicole Bennett, Owner, Perry Consulting
1. Know how to listen to understand. Your clients are not in this industry and therefore don’t speak the lingo or know what is available. You have to be able to discern their needs.
2. Flexibility. People don’t like block walls, you have to be able to provide options.
3. Enjoy creative problem solving. No matter how well you plan, something will pop up and you must enjoy being able to solve challenges quickly and with the resources at hand.
4. Time management skills. You should know how to multi-task but you should be able to plan your day in a way that gives you blocks of time where you can focus soley on the project at hand. Your end product will be much more thorough. You should also be organized so you don’t waste time looking for things and reinventing forms/files etc.
5. Industry expertise. Your clients come to you because they trust you have knowledge in an area they need guidance. You do your customer and the industry a dis-service if you call yourself an event professional if you don’t have the skills/experience to back it up.
Suzan Patrick, seasoned Meeting & Event Planner
1. Patience is my number 1. Without it, we don’t belong in this arena.
2. Flexibility. There are always going to be “fires to put out”, things that change and people who don’t do what they say they are going to do.
3. Listening skills. It’s one thing to listen – and yet another to hear. Hear what’s said and what’s NOT said.
4. Intuition. I think this goes without saying, but a keen intuition – being able to foresee things, predict what may need to happen (or not)… is very important.
5. Organizational skills. The best planners I’ve worked for/with are the ones with binders with tabs, sticky notes, checklists, to-do lists, etc. We are a rare breed (and we’re not all Virgo’s)! Planning events requires the ability to think on your feet, but remember it all!
Nicole Jensen, Independent Events Services Professional
1. Fantastic self-discipline. I’m still learning this one.
2. Expert in listening, so that one does not make the event turn out how they want it, but how the client wants. In the long-term this also means market research. Listen to your market and customers.
3. Flexibility. Management means problem solving. Keep those ideas and options coming!
4. Time management, naturally.
5. Personality. You cannot expect to manage people’s “super happy fun times” with a blank character!
Petra Johansson, Independent Events Services Professional
1. Strong organisational skills, ability to multi-task
2. People orientated and approachable
3. Strong communicator
4. Ability to quickly find easy solutions to any problems
5. A passion for event organising
Betsy Fowler, Events Services Professional
Most would agree that an event planner needs to be organized and come prepared for the worst. But from step one you need to be able to listen. This will put you in sync with your client and your team and let you stay at least half a step ahead. All that and a sense of humor (and perhaps a little Jimmy Buffett “if we weren’t all crazy we would be insane”) equal a successful event planner
Paula Entwistle-Mille, Account Manager, Ketchum
1. Problem solver by nature.
2. Predict all sorts of problems at the event and look at individual logical solutions to each.
3. Know each and every vendor of every little thing.
4. Creativity – to create the event/the story behind the show
5. PR and communication skills
Jose Farias, event resource specialist
A true leader – able to learn, teach, and focus on the goal.
Able to keep good relations and create new ones.
Able to create teamwork with the winning attitude to rise above the competition.
Doyle Slayton, Executive Director & Sales Strategist, SalesBlogcast
2. Leadership skills
Chandrabhan Gupta, Management Consultant & Expert Banks Security
1. Great show management skills.
2. On time and timely event management skills.
3. Ability to work out and provide the best economical infrastructure for the event.
4. Flawless event coordination skills.
5. Good crowd control
Greg Ruby, CASE CEM CMP, Experienced Event Management Specialist, Baltimore Convention Center
1. Be detail-oriented, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the more important items with the bulk of your work, but do a cursory check on the less important items.
2. Never let them see you sweat! Always remain cool, calm & collected when dealing with other people, while you may be a bundle of nerves on the inside.
3. Have a sense of humor. We are not talking rocket science here. Have fun with the work and the people you work with, and in most cases they will want to work with you again in the future.
4. Be well connected. You can’t do it all and are going to need help. Have names in your Rolodex of people who can help you.
5. Think outside the box. Just because it has always been done that way doesn’t mean that it still has to be done that way. Take risks and be bold.
Sanjeev Kotnala, AVP and National Head of Brand Communications, Bhaskar Group
It is the success of their events that get event planners the tag of being successful. Successful event managers are only as good as their last assignment.
In my view what is needed is:
PASSION: The job of event manager can be a thankless job. The person must have internal passion and zeal to overcome simple failures, learn fast to be able to work on the next assignments.
KNOWLEDGE AND BUSINESS SENSE: They must understand the business as well as the covert and the overt professional reasons for the event to be happening. And hence must be in a capacity to provide the right input and direction to the client.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE: They must be multi-dimensional, good at multi-tasking, with no issues in rolling their sleeves up at times to overcome a shortage of resources or to avert a last minute crisis.
MANPOWER MANAGER: People are the main resource that heevent planners work with and methods to excite, motivate or reprimand are essential. This may in fact be one of the most important factors.
CONSISTENCY: He moves through a ladder of confidence and builds trust, faith and respect, which are necessary to have a successful event.
Communication, networking, keeping everyone in the loop and exploitation of the situation are some other factors, but the top 5 in my view have been listed above.
Ramesh Chetwani, SPEX Manager, Informedia India
1. Being pro-active (I was surprised no one has mentioned this quality)
3. Excellent salesman
4. Good at multitasking
5. CRM: Customer Retention Management!
Silvia Malesardi, Events Management Assistant, Trentino Tourist Board
1. Good planning skills
2. Good communication skills
3. Playmaker (creating relationships)
4. Managing complex projects
5. High self-control
Rita-Eileen Glynn Smith, Marketing, Event Management & Communications Professional
1. You must be psychic – to anticipate what no one else can imagine
2. You must be modest – there’s no job “too small” that you will not do
3. You must be clairvoyant – to intuitively understand what hasn’t been communicated or articulated
4. You must practice magic – because sometimes you’ll be expected to create something out of nothing
5. You must like to smile – because come ‘showtime’ – it’s the best feeling ever.
Emma May, Sr. Events Marketing Manager, Athlon Sports
Event managers are some of the hardest working people in business today and there are many more than five attributes that make one successful but here is a good start:
1. Strong and pleasant negotiator
2. Extraordinary work ethic and ability to roll up sleeves
3. Always remember who he/she is working for (the client)
4. Calm under pressure/good poker face
5. Detail oriented/good eye for design
Richard O’Malley, Owner-President, The O’Malley Project
1. Great relationships with vendors.
2. The willingness to get their hands dirty.
4. Attentive to the needs of their crews.
5. Desire to create something great, not just get through it.
Jill McClure, CSEP, CMP, Senior Vice President
I’ve known many event managers who can organize their way out of a wet paper bag with the lights off. But, these are the qualities that make someone succeed, and not just survive.
1. Understands the business case and financial outcome required for the event
2. Knows how to be a problem solver; events are vehicles for strategic solutions and not just a list of logistics to organize.
3. Provides leadership for the entire team including vendors, stakeholders, clients, staff, etc.
4. Communicates effectively and delegates efficiently
5. Negotiates with an outcome of fair profits, fair deadlines, and fair expectations for all parties involved.
Christopher Noyes, CMP, Events and Programs Director, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
4. Good with people
1. Cares about overall quality & event success vis-a-vis all event stakeholders
2. Knows how to prioritise
3. Thinks on their feet
4. Great at delegating
5. Not resistant to doing the dirty work when needed
What would you say are the top qualities of a successful event manager? Statistically here is what the majority agreed on:
Organization didn’t take the top spot, as you may have expected. Instead, flexibility and people skills were deemed the most important qualities any successful event planner must have. Nonetheless, we found all answers very revealing, which is why we wanted to share these answers with you.
Do you agree with this list? What other skills and traits should successful event managers have?
Recommended Further Reading:
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