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Key skills you’ll need to master for managing events

Last updated October 22nd, 2021

Being an event manager is one of the most challenging, but most rewarding jobs there are. Our industry is constantly evolving and managing events has to evolve along with it.

An effective event manager needs to evolve and adapt along with the industry and wider society but there are some key skills you’ll need that will make you much more successful.

That’s what this post is all about.

We asked everyone we know within the industry and some of our teaching team to outline some of the key skills we think event managers should have.

This is what they came up with

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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People skills

People skills, soft skills, call them what you will. These are the single most important tools you’ll need as an event manager. Read any blog, article or course material on key skills and people skills will always come out on top.

Our industry depends on people and as a manager, you’ll need to be able to get the best out of everybody. That means being friendly and approachable but also dedicated and unswerving.

You’ll be working with staff, clients, sponsors, stakeholders, officials, suppliers, talent, agents, attendees and all manner of people, so people skills are vital!

Listening skills

Listening skills play a part in people skills but there’s more to it than that. Listening to stakeholders, sponsors, suppliers and your team means you should be able to identify wants, needs and what’s not being said as much as what is being said.

Creativity

Creativity is another essential skill used throughout events. Whether that’s brainstorming a concept, coming up with a theme, helping design table centres or coming up with creative solutions to problems.

Being able to think creatively is something every event manager we know values a lot.

Flexibility and adaptability

These two work hand in hand to help manage events. Even the most meticulous event timeline and well-planned schedule will go wrong as there are too many moving parts for it not to.

The ability to adapt yourself, your approach, your schedule and your timeline to different situations is essential.

Sure, we want our timeline to dictate running order and the overall process, but spend longer than 5 minutes in event management and you quickly realise it never works out like that in reality.

The ability to change and adapt to different situations and keep everything on track is the difference between an event manager and a successful event manager!

Organisational skills

Organisational skills can play a part in every aspect of your life. How can you organise an event with thousands of moving parts if you’re not organised in your own life?

Event management is about detail, logic and processes and all require you to be organised.

You will need to multitask, know where everyone should be and what they should be doing at any given time. You need to take care of the minutiae while also maintaining sight of the bigger picture.

All without dropping any of the multiple spinning plates you’re balancing.

That takes some serious organisational skills!

Calm under pressure

Anyone who tells you being an event manager isn’t stressful isn’t an event manager. Yet, it’s how you handle that stress that marks you out as effective or not.

Being calm under pressure helps you maintain focus, be able to make informed, rational decisions, handle conflict professionally, deliver solutions to insurmountable problems and be the leader your team needs you to be.

Being calm under pressure doesn’t come naturally to some and that’s okay. This is one of those times when it’s okay to ‘fake it until you make it’.

Client-centric

Being client-centric means putting the client, guests, attendees, wedding party or whoever, at the centre of everything. Maintaining sight of who the event is for and why, is an essential skill for an event manager.

Technically aware

Being technically aware is a definite skill you’ll benefit from. You don’t need to know every single detail about how a PA system works or broadcast channels are multiplexed for virtual events, but it helps to have an idea of how it all works.

You’ll have people to take care of all the details, but a broad understanding of the principles of how the different technologies work and their dependencies can make life a lot easier for everyone!

Happy to be hands-on

Being an effective event manager does mean keeping sight of the big picture and delegating tasks to those best served to deliver. But there will be times when it’s all hands to the pumps. When the caterer lets you down or waiting staff don’t turn up or something else entirely.

Those times, it helps to be willing to roll up your sleeves and muck in with the team to deliver the event.

Not only do you contribute to the success of the event and delight the attendees, you also help earn the respect of your team.

Any leader willing to get their hands dirty, wait tables, wash up or whatever is definitely worthy of respect!

There are lots more key skills we think every event manager should master but we think these are the most important. If you don’t have them already, you’ll develop them during our courses or your career.

Event management is a career of continual learning and development and key skills are part of that!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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