I’m sure you have been at events where you thought: “Wow! Whoever organised this did an amazing job”. For years I have been teaching future event planners how to organise and plan events. In the past some sceptics argued that event management courses were Mickey Mouse degrees. But an industry that is worth £40bn to the UK economy and employs 30,000 people needs good event planners.
As an event planner you’re in charge of planning, producing and organising an experience. You are bringing concepts to life. At certain points you are in charge of hundreds, if not thousands, of people working at your event. You are not only in charge; you are also responsible for their safety and their well-being. Event planners are not only project managers. They are hard working go-getters who make it look as if anyone can do it. And that’s when people realise that being an event planner is an actual job. So, what makes a good event planner?
What makes a good event planner?
To find the answer I have interviewed event organisers such as Dede Flemming (Lightning in a Bottle), Steven Haines (Stern Grove Festival), Stefanie Jones (Club Health) and added my own piece of mind to it. A good event planner is:
Passionate. Truly believe in what you want to achieve with your event. Organise the events that you love. If you do not like your own event, or your heart is not in it, don’t organise it. Ask yourself why you want to organise events in the first place. What drives you to do it?
Organised. Any project manager will tell you this as well but it’s true: plan your event carefully! Look at the details and the bigger picture at the same time. Proper planning will make you think twice about the decisions you make.
Cool. You are able to pick up the pieces. You have a plan but what happens if it doesn’t work out the way you had hoped? Prepare for eventualities. As one event planner put it: “There will be 100 different scenarios of what can happen on the day of the event. Actually, there might be 110 scenarios or even more. Don’t get rattled by it but make sure you can come up with solutions for any potential problems”.
Strong. No, you do not have to be an ***hole in order to be a good event planner. But you do need to be able to speak your mind. You made a plan remember? That plan represents a vision of what your event should look like. Contractors, and anyone working for you, might have their own ideas how things should be done. But this is your event, your event plan, and you are the event planner. It can be difficult for a young event planner to tell an older, more experienced, person what to do. But they work for you. You are in charge.
Compassionate. You are working in the service industry. People make long hours. People make mistakes. Sometimes it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself, put up a brave smile and soldier on. It’s a small world so you might end up working together again in the future. Stay professional at all times.
Versatile. You need to be able to work on different things at the same time. At smaller events this probably means you are involved in everything. This starts with the planning process and finishes with the post-production of your event. At larger events you still need to be able to multitask and, more than anything, you need to be able to delegate.
A great colleague. You cannot organise an event all by yourself. You need help at one point. Are you able to work with others? Are you able to put your trust in someone else? At smaller events you should be the person that is able to walk around and solve any issues. Your team is doing the jobs you have given them. At larger events you should be the person that has an overview of what is happening at your event. Your team leaders deal with the nitty-gritty.
Overall you need to stay calm, process everything quickly, collect your thoughts and….get on with it!