An event manager’s guide to corporate event planning


5 skills any good event manager needs to have

Events management or event planning is an exciting job that attracts talented candidates around the world. Often associated with glitz and glamor, it's a role in which you get to mix and mingle with a lot of interesting people, deal with fundraising, and work with plenty of creatives to turn the event into something special.
The events industry as a whole ground to a halt throughout the coronavirus pandemic. With stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures being put in place, small and large-scale events were largely canceled. Now, as the world starts opening up again, it's time to look at the event manager job description and think about what's changed and what's stayed the same. What skills do successful events managers need in the new normal?

What exactly is event management?

Event coordinators, also known as event planners or event managers, are responsible for organizing all kinds of events for a company. Whether they're promotional for event marketing, social for team-building, or business events like summits, that will all fall under the scope of the event manager.
People in this role need to handle the end-to-end logistics and planning of these events. That includes overseeing the designated budget; dealing with venues, vendors, and suppliers; handling the guest list; managing travel to and from the event; making sure all the required facilities are available for all (ex. parking, first aid, etc.); coordinating with legal teams; and guaranteeing the health and safety of all attendees, to name a few.

5 skills an event manager needs to have

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While a lot has changed in this industry since the outbreak of the pandemic, most of the skills you needed for success in this role before the pandemic still apply today. Let's take a look at some of the most important soft and hard skills events planners need to have.

1. Have time management skills beyond owning a fancy watch

Without a doubt, time management skills are the most valuable trait you can have as an event coordinator. Planning an event can be a very time-consuming, stressful activity and the best way to come out on top is to manage your time as best as possible. There are many aspects of events that you have to consider and plan for at different moments. For example, you'll need to book your event space several months in advance, whereas you'll probably need to send out invites a few days or weeks before. Being good with setting timelines for different objectives and hurdles is really important in this role.

2. Have Marie Kondo-level organizational skills

To be a good event planner, you'll need to be the kind of person who starts smiling when they see a color-coordinated closet. There are so many moving parts in event management and so many stakeholders to coordinate that you simply cannot do this without good organization. You'll probably spend a lot of your time multi-tasking, talking to different people, and paying different vendors, among other things, that keeping track of everything is the only way to survive. Don't forget that you'll also be responsible for the event budget, and that can be a fairly sizeable sum. Being organized when handling an event budget can make or break your event's success.

3. Be a social butterfly

Communication skills are essential in planning a successful event. Just think about it—you'll need to talk to literally everyone. You'll start by meeting with your team and with your company's internal stakeholders to understand the objectives of an event and set the basics. Then, you'll need to get the ball rolling by contacting multiple different event venues, caterers, and transport services. Once you've done that, you'll need to start hiring event staff, promoting it to company attendees or guests you may want to invite, and even negotiating preferential rates for different things. Having interpersonal skills beyond just communication here goes a very long way.

4. Be a problem-solving maestro

OK, we're not going to sugarcoat this. Things go wrong at events. All. The. Time. From last-minute cancelations to mix-ups with orders to changing health restrictions, organizing an event is very rarely smooth sailing. Especially on the day of the event when a thousand unforeseen problems inevitably crop up. You can't measure event success based on how easy your management experience has been because a huge part of planning events is overcoming obstacles that come your way. That's why it's so important for events managers to keep a cool head and react well under pressure. To be a good events planner, you need to have a "give me a problem" attitude, rather than a "give me a solution" attitude.

5. Love marcomms and everything that comes with it

As an events manager, you'll need to be able to wear many hats—not least of which is your marketing & communications hat. Having marketing skills when working in events planning is fundamental as this will be a large part of your job responsibilities. Just think about it. You're planning a promotional event for the launch of a new product. What do you need to do? You'll need to work with public relations and bring in the press for a conference. You'll need to understand social media strategy so you can figure out how to leverage your event as quality content for your followers. You'll need to work on a proper marketing strategy, thinking about target audiences, segmentations, external communications, and more. You'll need to collaborate with loads of different stakeholders, so you'll need marketing materials like brochures and presentations ready to go. You might even need to work on sponsorship opportunities with external partners!

Yes, COVID-19 did change the industry—but it didn't flip it on its head

There's no denying that the events industry has been hugely impacted by COVID-19. But here's the thing. People will always want and need to get to together in person. Whether that's for a professional conference or summit, a team-building get-together, or even just a great company party, virtual mediums just can't replace face-to-face interaction.
So, if anyone is telling you that you're crazy for getting involved in the events industry now, they should think again. Humans are innately social beings, and it's in our nature to crave each other's company.
That being said, there are a few things that all good events managers need to account for in a COVID and post-COVID world:

Hybrid is the word of the century

You need to remember that while we do crave in-person interaction, circumstances in different countries, cities, neighborhoods and even families differ greatly. That's why it's important to build hybrid event designs now and for the foreseeable future. Giving people the option to join an event physically or remotely will be a staple of good events management going forward.

Technology is your friend, not your foe

Yes, we're all sick and tired of Zoom. But a good events manager needs to use technological and video conferencing tools to make their event a success for everyone in attendance. It's about more than just knowing how to set up a "join link", it's about understanding how to mirror an amazing physical event for your online attendees. Using technology is the best way to do that.

Always have a fallback plan

With health and safety, and indeed travel, restrictions changing so regularly, it's important for you to have a fallback plan for any event. That could mean booking flexible rates with venues and vendors so you can change the date at short notice, or overhauling the whole event to shift it to an online model. Whatever the challenge, just be ready with a backup so you don't have to scramble last minute if things change!
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