It takes a certain set of particular skills to be a fantastic event manager. These include dedication, organisation, creativity and the passion to produce the best events (and personalised T-shirts) possible. But even if you have all of those, success isn’t a guarantee. In order to help you through the journey into the events management world, we’ve put together a list of qualities that will help you leave your mark in the industry as the best event manager ever!

How to become a master event manager

Know what makes an amazing event manager: This is our very first step because it’s tough to become an amazing event manager without knowing the qualities you need to have. There are always people who manage to stumble into it, but it’s easier to get to the top if you have a solid understanding of what you’ll need to get there.

So, what makes an incredible event manager? What will get everyone talking about your events for the right reasons? Grab a pen and a piece of paper:

  • Organisation – you love lists and detail. You leave nothing to chance and plan every aspect, from the boring (think cleaning of the toilets) to the glamorous (like sumptuous floral displays).
  • People management – as an event manager you have to be able to delegate tasks and trust the people you are working with. You’ll have a bank of reliable suppliers who won’t let you down and a team of helpers who you can rely on. You know how to get the best out of people.
  • Good listener – clients you arrange events for will have ideas and it’s your job to turn them into reality. This can be a challenge when you’re working within a budget, so it’s your duty to make them understand what the limits are. A professional event planner should know how to balance resources and imagination. You’ll also need to balance your expertise with your clients’ wishes.
  • Energy – an event manager needs boundless energy since this isn’t always a 9 to 5 job. You’ll be working long hours and weekends when there are events going on. Not to mention the off-hours phone calls. On the day of an event, you’ll be there early, finish late and likely be running from one side to the other all day long. But your enthusiasm to succeed and make the event happen will help you keep going. And maybe a cup of coffee or two (or three).
Doris Walker drom "Miracle on 34th Street"
No tablets back then! Doris (played by Maureen O’Hara) had to do everything with a clipboard.

The fictional event planner to learn from: The mom in Miracle on 34th Street. Doris Walker is the director of the Macy’s Day Parade for Thanksgiving and she manages to put it all together with just a single clipboard!

Train your eye

Whether you’re organising a friend’s birthday party, a school reunion, a business conference or a high society wedding, as a successful event planner you’ll need to know what works and what doesn’t. An appetite for trying something different is essential. As the event manager, it’s your job to come up with unique and innovative ideas that will produce amazing events time after time. A keen eye can go a long way to help you stand out.

While some people do just seem to have a natural eye for this stuff, there’s usually a lot of hard work that goes into honing your keen eye, too. Pinterest is a great place to start looking! You’ll also want to attend other event planners’ events to see what ideas they’ve come up with. But inspiration can come from anywhere, so you’ll always need to be on the lookout for new ideas you can work into your future events.

The fictional event planner to learn from: Meg Ryan as Eve Mozell Marks in Hanging Up, a movie from 2000 that she stars in alongside Diane Keaton and Friends’ Lisa Kudrow as three sisters. Eve is an event planner, and she throws a seriously amazing Halloween party in the film that shows how a great eye can make any bash special.

Speaking of Friends, remember when Monica organised Phoebe’s wedding? Monica definitely had the eye, although her laser-focused style definitely clashed with Phoebe’s laid-back attitude! That brings us to our next point…

Monica as Phoebe's wedding planner

Understand your clients

As an exceptional event manager, you have to listen to your clients’ needs. Sometimes, you’ll even need to anticipate what your client wants before they even know them themselves!

If you’re planning corporate events, this is especially important. You must take the time to get to know the business so you can produce an event that’s right for your client’s sector. You could be organising end of year parties, corporate training days, trade shows client presentations, product launches or awards ceremonies. To do this successfully, you have to understand what drives the company and their expectations. You may also be organising social events, which present a different kind of challenge.

The fictional event planner to learn from: Mary Fiore in The Wedding Planner. This movie is for event planners what Legally Blonde is for lawyers — a totally unrealistic portrayal of their careers, but still a guilty pleasure of sorts. Something that it does well though, is show just how much work event planners do getting to know their clients and trying to figure out how to give them the perfect day, right down to the last detail.

The Wedding Planner Gif

Get ready for major planning and marketing

The world of an event manager never stands still. Whilst attending one event you’re likely to be taking calls and answering emails for others. You’ve got to be on top of things and plan ahead. Each event should be broken down into sections, such as venue, catering, decorations, entertainment and so on. You’ll also need to consider certifications, insurance, booking fees, tastings, guest lists and even promotion.

Then the event will need to be marketed – online and offline. A charity event will need advertising, a product launch may need press, a ball will need ticket sales, an awards ceremony will need PR. Whilst you may not be doing all the marketing you will certainly need to liaise with promotional staff to ensure the event is advertised successfully. A levelled head and well-organised lists will help you a great deal.

The fictional event planner to learn from: The brothers from Big Night, a movie about two Italian immigrants to the US who are struggling to get their restaurant off the ground. Things take a turn when they host a celebrity night dinner. The lesson? Getting people to talk about your event (especially well-known people) can make or break your business.

OK, so these guys aren’t event planners but the lesson still stands!

Dare to be different

To be the best event manager you need to be prepared to offer something really special to your clients. Your ideas need to be unique so clients choose you as their event manager over the competition. Be brave and stand out from the crowd. When putting together an event proposal take a step back and ask yourself what the client is expecting and how you can take it up a level.

That doesn’t have to mean spending the big bucks, though. Not every event has an enormous budget, but your experience can bring any event to life and give the customer much more than they are expecting. Thinking outside of the box can make a huge difference.

The fictional event planner to learn from: Yoshi Nojiri from The Ultimate Wedding Planner… is actually a real person, not fictional! He’s the biggest wedding planner in the world and often organises huge events for celebrities. Look at a few of the things he’s done, and you’ll quickly realise that being different can pay off big time.

Bonus: watch the documentary The First Monday in May, which goes behind the scenes into all the work that Anna Wintour and her event planners do to make the Met Ball happen.

Text: Jehane Newton
Edit: Jessica Bowler and Harald Meyer-Delius

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