The Secret to Becoming a Successful Event Planner Shouldn’t be a Secret!

You must have seen the lists. The ones that outline what it takes to be a successful event planner?

Most include flexibility, creativity, time management, organizational abilities – sometimes resourcefulness or passion. Perhaps it’s these very attributes that drew you to the business? And yes they are very important.

Yet few lists (if any) mention the critical business skills required for the success of a great event planner.

Skills like communication, team leadership, strategic thinking, and financial acumen.

Why are these skills not front and centre…or at the very least included?

All of the most successful event industry professionals are first and foremost great business people.

They are master budgeters, master communicators, masters of strategic thinking. They know how to foster and manage great teams and continually develop their leadership skills to encourage the best out of everyone.

It shouldn’t be a secret.

If you want to be a great event planner, work hard and continuously on building your fundamental business skills:


Get really good at it. Budgets are the foundation of everything you do. There isn’t a client anywhere who won’t require a budget for their event regardless of whether they have hundreds or hundreds of thousands to spend. And if you have hopes one day of owning your own event company, budgeting will impact not only the events you run but also influence the very success of your overall business.

Strategic thinking and planning.

Practice establishing and executing against the goal(s) of the event. It’s pretty hard to measure success at the end if you don’t know exactly where you were headed. And yet this happens all the time. Planner and client have not taken the strategic step of clarifying the objectives. Diligence around this step is crucial and planners must take the lead to ensure it happens. Learn to ask the right questions and lead your client to fully define their desired outcome. This step will help guide decisions along the way as you work to a common goal and leave no question regarding success.


If you don’t think this is important, think again. Proposals, business plans, client communication, marketing materials, resumes/covering letters, supplier briefings…the list could go on. All are more effective if clearly written, concise, professional and free of grammatical and spelling errors. There are endless sources for good writing guidelines and samples online when you need help along the way. Practice using a thesaurus for expanded vocabulary. Our tendency toward abbreviated communication through texting makes us all more casual when writing but let’s face it…this is not appropriate for most business communication. Your writing is a direct reflection of you as a businessperson so take the time to write well and practice constantly.


This skill takes practice, practice, practice but can set you apart in so many circumstances. Whether a one-on-one conversation, speaking to your team or presenting to a client, learn to make your communication clear, concise and engaging. Listen, ask questions and always look others in the eye. I know many seasoned event professionals who still practice their client presentations in advance. Don’t underestimate the power of rehearsal! (Yes sometimes talking to yourself in the mirror is ok!)

Team management.

This takes years of experience and practice. Even then you will still run into a situation you haven’t before. Teamwork is the very foundation of managing events and the more time and energy you spend learning and developing as a good team player and manager the more successful you will be. Start by examining the one part you can completely control…your own participation and interaction with others. Are you engaged and making a contribution? Are you listening well? Are you encouraging the contribution of others? Observe. Ask others for feedback. Work on your skills. People are drawn to those who are great team players and leaders because they are inevitably successful.

Mastering these important business skills will influence everything from your likelihood of promotion through to your success in managing your own business if that’s the path you choose.

It’s an ongoing process. There is always something new to learn. But…

If you want to have a great career in events, learn first and foremost to be a great businessperson.




Post by Margaret Johnston,

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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