Ten essential skills for an expert event organiser
Fernando da Silva Oliveira Neto - April 15, 2020
Organising events is one of the most challenging jobs around. As well as keeping on top of all of the moving parts involved in creating an exceptional visitor experience, it calls for a range of skills that anyone hoping to become an accomplished event manager must master.
Here, we take a look at the ten top skills required to make it in this demanding role.
1. Organisational skills
Organising an event can seem a little like spinning plates sometimes, with so many tasks and processes to keep your eye on – so being able to multitask while keeping the bigger picture clearly in your mind is a must, especially with large or complex events. Developing your organisational and project management skills will allow you to keep a handle on what’s been done so far and what comes next while making the big decisions when needed.
It’s not easy working under tight financial restrictions and pressure to make a profit while juggling the multitude of expenses involved in arranging an event – especially considering that so much can change during the process and there’s no guarantee of how many visitors will actually show up on the day or how much they’ll spend. However, this is a skill you’ll need to work on if you want your events to be successful.
3. Time management
Event managers constantly come up against time pressure, with lots to do – in the right order – over a short period. This is a particular challenge if you’re relying on a third party to do a task before another one can be started. With so much that can get held up, quick decisions are often needed, and the requirement to manage processes on the fly while sticking to planned timings makes time management a crucial skill.
4. Stress management
If you can’t handle stress, this is not the job for you. Parameters change and challenges can arise at any time, from a key team member getting ill to décor orders taking too long to arrive, performers getting stuck in traffic or equipment malfunctioning just before opening time. This means you’ll have to think on your feet and find solutions fast. ‘The show must go on’, as the saying goes – so crumbling under pressure simply isn’t an option.
With multiple moving parts making event organisation such a dynamic role, you’ll often have to come up with workable solutions in a short timeframe – in addition, you’ll be under pressure to create an experience that blows your audience away. All of this makes creativity a vital skill. Attention to detail also goes hand in hand with this – considering every aspect of the visitor experience and leaving no stone unturned will prevent unexpected issues on event day.
Putting on an event means taking responsibility for every aspect – that could be managing unexpected changes, cleaning up spillages or helping a team member get through a bad day. Things may not always go as you’re hoping, so you’ll need to be resilient and ready to adapt your approach at a moment’s notice. Under the umbrella of flexibility, problem-solving ability is also essential – this involves identifying issues as early as possible and then dealing with them effectively.
7. People skills
People skills will help you getting the best out of your team by understanding how they work and what motivates them. The ability to ‘get’ your target audience will also enable you to create a concept that attracts them and an experience that stimulates them. Honing your people skills is central to good customer service too – an unwavering dedication to fulfilling the needs and expectations of your attendees, sponsors, traders and other stakeholders will go a long way.
The ability to be clear and get your vision across will ensure that everyone knows their role and that the event’s ethos and concept can be conveyed to visitors. Even with a marketing team working on communications, you’ll still need to communicate clearly with them or they’ll be as useful as a racehorse without a jockey. Another important aspect of communication is networking, which will allow you to build professional relationships with people who possess skills or knowledge that you may need some day.
You can be an event expert without necessarily being in charge, but event organisation requires such a variety of skills that if you want to be accomplished at it, you must be able to coordinate and lead a team, delegating tasks to achieve the desired goals. Of course, some of the other items in this list – like people skills and communication – are part of being a competent leader, but this skill is also important in its own right.
10. Sales and negotiation
If done right, your event concept has a lot to offer for anyone involved, from visitors and sponsors to speakers and exhibitors. Communicating this in order to leverage value from them will enable you to maximise the potential of the event – offering them an even better experience and creating a mutually beneficial outcome in the process. And when wearing your buyer’s hat, negotiating good deals with venues, contractors and suppliers is also a fundamental part of your job.