10 (Harsh) Truths Nobody Tells You About Being an Event Planner

A lot is written and observed about the traits of Event Managers and what it takes to be a great Event Planner. On the flipside, however, some of these common characteristics we share and our demanding career path can actually be a nightmare for those around us, at home, work and play.

In this post we explore the downsides of our work as an #Eventprof. This is essential reading for anyone training to be an Event Manager or starting out in the industry and should strike a cord with all Event Planners. This light-hearted post is a special thank you to our friends and loved ones who put up with us day in and day out and love us anyway, despite these foibles and our unconventional jobs!

harsh truths of being an event planner

Perfectionist or Control Freak?

Attention to detail matters a lot in this job, for obvious reasons. However there is actually a very fine line between a perfectionist and a control freak. If you believe that you have to do everything yourself to ensure your high standards are met and struggle with delegation you may have crossed the line!

Do you believe that everything will crumble if you do not micro-manage every single detail? Try to keep a healthy perspective and reality check yourself otherwise with so many details to manage on every single event you can easily burn yourself out with stress and anxiety. Remember events are about team work for the greatest chance of success.

It is also sometimes inevitable and completely outside of your control when things go wrong. At times like these you need the right side of your brain to take the lead, rather than the methodical, task-based and logical left side. When you have to think on your feet and react quickly you really show your worth as an Event Manager. It takes nerves of steel not to crumble and to take control of the situation authoritatively and quickly and to smoothly direct a new plan of action. On the plus side there is no time to worry about it and the adrenalin often kicks in. You really must “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

All Work and No Play

Many people envy the role of an #eventprof. It is true that the job can have many perks, but it certainly isn’t always as glamorous as many people imagine!

In reality it is hard work. It involves long, long hours and plenty of pressure to ensure everything goes to plan. If you are looking for a set 9 to 5 job this probably isn’t the career for you to choose. Flexibility is key and you need to be prepared to work relentlessly and for as long as necessary to ensure that everything is ready on time for your event.

Moreover, when the event is in full swing on the day/night there is often no time to relax (or even sometimes to eat!). At the end of the day you are putting on the event for other peoples benefit, delight and objectives, you are there to do a job and not to enjoy yourself!

Of course jet setting across the world or even just to other towns and cities sounds exciting but often you have little or no time to explore the outside world before you are back on the plane/boat/train/car back home again.

Shhh. Don’t Tell!

Another misconception about our job is how lucky we are to work with celebrities and famous people and this is true most, or at least some, of the time. It is great to truly appreciate how someone has deservingly got where they are through talent and charisma and seemingly managed to stay grounded.

HOWEVER I think every #eventprof has horror stories of egotistical, downright rude and dislikeable characters we have had the “pleasure” to work with. But of course what happens backstage, stays backstage – or at least until I write my memoirs!

It’s Not All About You

One of the greatest skills of an Event Planner is actually fading into the background! You are not the star of the show, you are there to silently and efficiently work behind the scenes so that the event happens as if by magic.

Of course people should know where to turn if they have any questions or concerns but humility is actually a very important attribute for every Event Manager and this is a good marker to me of a successful event.

Sociable and Outgoing? Or Simply too Loud?

This profession seems to attract those that are fairly confident and outgoing, which makes sense in this public facing and customer orientated role. However it is important to realise that what is sociable to one person can sometimes be seen as overbearing to another. I have certainly met some marmite characters in the world of events.

The best #eventprofs are able to judge a situation and the characters involved perfectly and blend in as the circumstances demand. Like a chameleon they are well practised at keeping the conversation flowing on seemingly any topic, champions at asking questions, listening and showing an interest and of course able to inject professionalism, humour, intrigue and storytelling as required.

Tech Obsessed

For many Event Managers their role today is closely interlinked with technology and social media and seems to demand being online 24/7. To others we can appear to act like teenagers, or even sometimes be perceived as being rude, constantly checking our smart phones. However we are “working” – honest! In social media quick responses are essential so replying promptly across multiple social media channels is important. And it can be tempting to check ticket sales, reply to that email, update your to-do list and start planning that next blog post while your phone is at your fingertips.

Just please oh please do not fall in to the 75% of Americans that admit using their smart phone on the toilet….

Cranky?

Time and time again Event Management is listed as one of the top ten most stressful jobs so can you blame us for being a little tetchy sometimes?! An event really is the ultimate immovable deadline and stress levels and patience can sometimes run a little thin at pressurized times!
And to be frank after a LONG, HARD event day of non-stop talking and endless smiles looking after guests it is nice to simply be quiet!

And yes, on event days we can easily cover 20 miles plus so we are fully entitled to moan about our aching limbs and blistered feet too!

What Time Do you Call This?

18 hour days and finally falling into bed at 3am after running a dinner or awards ceremony or rising at 4am to run a conference or exhibition is part of the job spec. Hopefully you have an understanding bedfellow as many people wouldn’t dream of keeping the hours demanded as an #eventprof. And of course being an Event Planner you will no doubt have multiple alarm devices set just to ensure you wake up at the necessary time and in case the first 2 alarm clocks don’t work, which can be a little frustrating for your other half if they were hoping not to be disturbed.

Once An Event Planner Always An Event Planner…

When you go to an event organised by someone else we still cannot help ourselves. Do we switch off and enjoy not being in the driving seat for once? NO! Instead we seem to go on auto pilot, opening doors, directing people, solving other people’s problems. The strange thing is people seem to naturally gravitate towards us as if they think we are in charge! Event Management is in your blood.

Just Enjoy the Moment?

Furthermore we can’t help but wonder “why have they [the Event Planner] done it that way? I would have done that differently” whilst also appraising what they have done well and what is and isn’t working.

At festivals and concerts in particular I find myself completely fascinated watching the crew do their jobs and appreciating the quick set changes and the sound, vision, lighting and special effects in minute detail. Does this detract from my enjoyment of the event though? No – not at all!

In Conclusion

I know lots of amazing Event Planners who are fantastic at what they do as well as great people to know. However there is definitely a flip side and the traits that make us dynamite Event Managers and our over-demanding careers can also make us frustrating friends, lovers, family members, work colleagues or acquaintances. I hope that we are worth it!

Can you identify with any of the truths in this post? What other honest confessions would you add to this list? I would love to have your input in the comments below.

About The Author
Becki Cross
Becki Cross is Managing Director of Events Northern Ltd, a UK event and conference management company established in 2004. Becki set up the business in her early twenties and is particularly passionate about conferences, entrepreneurship and social media. Follow Becki via @beckitrain.
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Julius Solaris
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