Top 5 qualities of the successful event manager

This post is a collective effort of the Linkedin event community trying to identify the attributes that make an event professional stand out.

A few comments. Read all the answers as you may be inspired by the very latest and I can tell by the quality that every single participant made an effort in writing. I am very happy to finally see event professionals exchanging opinions and talking about their experience, you will notice that we will all benefit from this.

Statistically here is what the majority agreed on:

The first answer is the one that I thought to be the best. Best means more comprehensive and spot on according to my experience. Nonetheless, you might find that other answers are more inspiring that is why I decided to post them all.

Kevin Jurczyk – National Marketing Director at Branstrator Sunrooms and Basement Systems of America says:

1) 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.

2) Resourcefulness-

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. Ability to pool together the individuals you need.

3) Communication-

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.

4) Passion-

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 says:

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 says:

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 says:

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 at McCormick & Schmick’s says:

I feel very excited to answer this as I just yesterday experienced my *worst* ever customer service experience … with me being the customer.

Therefore, I absolutely stand for the fact that #1 is:

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 says:

I think there are may attributes that would 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 cant me 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. Other wise 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 says:

1. Passion
2. Multi- tasker
3. Flexibility – do not freak out — there will be last minute changes always
4. Charisma
5. Approachable

Rohit Kumar – Ph.D. Student at Carnegie Mellon University says:

To add a one more:

Cant do everything yourself: Ability to delegate by trusting people, setting benchmarks (past successful events), sharing vision and establishing feedback channels.

Anuroopa Banerjee Gupta – Marketing Communications expert says:

1. Plans for the best -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 done till 3 am and when next day she arrived at the booth 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 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 says:

a) Get the Brief right
b) Know your Consumer
c)Work within budgets
d) Time is crucial
e) Never ever lose control

Michael Miller – Director of Sales & Marketing at Tiki’s Grill & Bar / Holokai Grill says:

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 says:

1. Attention to details
2. Good organization skills
3. Flexibility to change
4. Excellent communicator
5. Diplomacy (w/ clients and vendors)

James Minella – Event Operations Director says:

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 is:

1. Be Extremely organized – overly so
2. Maintain a big picture philosophy at all times, meaning you work on ever detail while keeping in perspective the larger impact and goal
3. Be a good – no 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 realting to and dealing with high level executives, government officials, vendors, co-workers, sponorsor representatives, customers,supervisors, suppliers, full-time staff, part-time staff and more.
5. Be Creative and Flexible. I think these two go together because in the event business things are always changing. Which requires you be flexible to develop a solution and solution comes about as a result of yoru creativity.

Nicole Bennett – Owner, Perry Consulting says:

1. Knows 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 says:

Patience is my number 1. Without it, we don’t belong in this arena.
Flexibility is number 2. 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 say many times, but a keen intuition – being able to foresee things, predict what may need to happen (or not)….is very important.
5 Finally, I would say 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 says:

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 says:

In no particular order…

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. Have a passion for event organising

Betsy Fowler – Events Services Professional says:

It would seem we all agree you need 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 at ketchum says:

besides all qualities related pretty much to working at PR/comm. agencies etc I would add:

-problem solver by nature.
-predict all sorts of problems at the event and look at individual logical solutions to each.
-Know each and every vendor of every little thing to produce even at a personal level.
-creative profile if you are to create the event/the story behind the show and above mentioned characteristics if you are to executive and manage it on the daily basis

Jose Farias – Event resource specialist says:

Learn, Teach, Focus, goal, reward.
To keep relations and create new ones.
to create teamwork with the winning attitude to rice from the competition.

A true leader.

Doyle Slayton – Executive Director & Sales Strategist at SalesBlogcast says:

1. Organized
2. Leadership
3. Steady
4. Creative
5. Connected

Chandrabhan Gupta – Management Consultant & Expert Banks Security says:

1. A great show management skills.
2. On Time Event management skills.
3. Ability to work out and provide best economical infrastructure for the event.
4. A flowless Event coordination skills.
5. A good crowd controller.
Above 5 qualities are required for a successful event manager.

Greg Ruby, CASE CEM CMP – Experienced Event Management Specialist – Baltimore Convention Center says:

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 peope 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.


-Value for money
-Image Enhancement of client
-Crisp & precise time management
-Event Concept to match Corporate goals
-Customized new event -each time

Sanjeev Kotnala – AVP and National Head. Brand Communications. Bhaskar Group says:

SUCCESFUL EVENT MANAGERS are like the events- or alumni of an institute. Its success of their event that get then the tag of being successful and they are as good as the last assignment.

Hence in my view what is needed are
PASSION: The job of event manager at any stage turns out to be a thankless job. The person must have an internal passion and zeal to overcome simple failures and learn fast to be able to work on the newer assignment.

KNOWLEDGE AND BUSINESS SENSE: He must understand the business as well as the covert and the overt business and professional reasons for the event to be happening. And hence must be in a capacity to provide the right input and direction.

SWISSKNEIF: He must be like a multi dimensional multi tasking perosn with no hitch in rolling his sleeves at times to overcome the shortage of resources otr while trying to last minute crisis management.

MANPOWER MANAGER: It’s the main resource that he works with and here his methods to excite motivate or reprimand are essential the tools he plays with. This may in fact be one of the most important factors.

CONSISTENCY-: He moves through a ladder of confidence- trust-faith and respect. And hence he must- do something like he does everything. It holds back any surprises and builds in a level of trust required to have a successful event.

Communication- networking- keeping all on loop- 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 says:

Well, all qualitites mentioned can be rated as Top 5. However, what are the key qualities that will distinguish an Event Manager (EM) with the rest? What are the 5 stars that shine on an EM’s shoulder?

1. Being Pro-active (I was surprised no one mentioned this quality)
2. Intelligent
3. Excellent Salesman
4. Multitasking
5. CRM: Customer Retention Management!

I can back up all with good examples, but then who will finish my book!

Silvia Malesardi – Events management Assistant at Trentino Tourist Board says:

1 a good planner
2 good communication skills
3 playmaker (in relathionships)
4 manage the complexity
5 high self-control

Rita-Eileen Glynn Smith – Marketing, Event Management & Communications Professional says:

I could reiterate what everyone else has stated (and quite nicely I might add), however, I thought I’d have a little fun with this.

You must be psychic – to anticipate what no one else can imagine; You must be modest – there’s no job “too small” that you wont do; You must be clairvoyant – to intuitively understand what hasn’t been communicated or articulated; You must practice magic – because sometimes you’ll be expected to create something out of nothing, and you must like to smile – because come ‘showtime’ – it’s the best feeling ever.

Emma May – Sr. Events Marketing Manager at Athlon Sports says:

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 are good starts:

1. Strong & 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 says:

1. Great relationships with quality vendors.
2. The will to get their hands dirty.
3. Motivational.
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 says:

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 Progrmas Director at Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce says:

1. Passion
2. Multi- tasker
3. Flexibility
4. Good with People
5. Resourcefulness

Pai Gee-Janssens – Positively Contributing to a Flatter World says:

Cares about overall quality & event success vis-a-vis all event stakeholders -> including the organising team! (o:
Knows how to prioritise
Thinks on their feet
Great at delegating
Not resistant to doing the dirty work when need-be

About The Author
Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of, he is an international speaker and author of The Event App Bible, Engaging Events, Social Media for Events, The Good Event Registration Guide and The Annual Event Trends Report.
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Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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