The 30 must have event organiser skills you NEED to become a super charged event organiser

I’ve been organising events since 1996 and those events – as a whole – haven’t changed that much. I have, but they haven’t!

Conferences, exhibitions, festivals, road-shows are much the same as they were twenty or more years ago. However a lot has changed around the edges and it’s time to review the skills for event organisers and look at the role of the all round, super charged, able to do everything event organiser.

Here are the first ten skills that every event organiser needs

During the 1990’s most events businesses sliced and diced the role of the organiser. Specialisation was the key: if you shone in sales you were moved to sales: if marketing was your thing, marketing called and you answered.

However as the events industry moved from the idea of a ‘product’ (and all the manufacturing terms like ‘conference producer’ disappear) to the idea of an event as a ‘service’, the rounded organiser is back in fashion.

Here’s a detailed explanation of those first ten important event organiser skills:

1. An understanding of logistics

This is and has always been a key skill for an organiser.

Our rounded organiser has to understand room layouts, the proclivity of people when queuing and where the best stands are likely to be located on a floor-plan.

They also need to consider sight lines, maximum room capacities and a thousand other things that no longer conveniently fall under the jurisdiction of ‘operations.’

2. Marketing

No one has the event so close to their heart as the event organiser.

This is why an understanding of the discipline of marketing an event is a must have skill.

The term “event marketing” covers so much. Within this we need the ability to understand inbound and outbound marketing as well as a good knowledge of platforms and channels for our marketing.

3. ‘Experience’ not event design

In order to ensure that our events are more than ‘people and logistics’ a deep understanding of meeting design is key for the reborn ‘Event Organiser’.

It’s not just the learning environment that has to be considered but an understanding of the psychology of attendees which even filters down to their on-site food and beverage consumption.

4. Social Media

Understanding the role of Social Media in promoting and engaging attendees in our events is an undeniably crucial weapon in our ‘rounded organisers’ arsenal.

5. Event Technology

With mobile apps, voting and engagement pads, gamification and all manner of gadgets and gizmos our organiser has to be ‘tech’ savvy like never before.

We have to understand automation and be aware of the impact of Artificial Intelligence.

6. Really understand “online”

It is crucial that event organisers not only understand the terminology (online, blended, hybrid, streamed and recorded) of online events, but really comprehend the differences between all the options when taking an event online.

Delivering an event online needs a deep understanding of the subtleties that make online delivery very different from traditional event delivery.

7. Budgetary control

Rather than keeping to a rigidly set budget the organiser has to design this budget to ensure that value is added to all of the parties involved in the event while of course brining in the target profit.

8. Negotiation

A very traditional function and still a core skill for the organiser. But even this has changed: it’s not now just about getting the lowest price.

Organisers must leverage Social Media, other forms of marketing and consider how to bring suppliers into the event experience.

This approach focuses on adding value as well as working for the right fees and charges for venues, speakers and even other suppliers.

9. A people person

A part of the role that has and will never change.

Firm but approachable.

Decisive but flexible.

Fun but serious.

On site and in planning this facet of the role is kernel to an events success.

10. A true industry representative

The all-round organiser has to represent an industry still struggling to be recognised and appreciated.

They have to be dynamic and they have to shout about the value and the importance of events to so many types of businesses in so many different sectors. We are amazing, well we have 30 skills at least!

10 more skills required of an event organiser

As we all know, being an event planner / event organiser is one of the most dynamic jobs in the world as well as one of the toughest.

New skills required of an event organiser

We think that, if you want to move from a good organiser to a great organiser, then ensuring that you concentrate on new skills each year will really help you develop and stay at the cutting edge of your profession.

So, here are ten more essential event organiser skills staring with perhaps the single most important skill….

11. Become a behavioural change expert

If you aren’t in the change business then you aren’t in business. It is crucial that organisers understand the impact of change. Not just at their events but the impact the new creative ways of delivering content will have on their bottom line and ultimately on their organisation. #eventprofs have to learn how to make change stick.

To understand behavioural change in events we have to change

“If you aren’t in the change business then you aren’t in business”

Understanding how people actually change is one of the most important parts of the modern day event planner and it warrants a further look.

Most conference speakers challenge the current way of doing things and most exhibitions are packed with new ways to do things.

The conference or exhibition can be about farming or finance, golf or gaming but every event will be, at its heart about change.

So we event organisers really need to have a better understanding about how to support change. This is a KEY SKILL for sure.

I believe the job of a great planner is to ensure that we help our attendees prepare for change by creating the right environment and supporting those who deliver content and offer up new products.

We are the change enablers.

Our event organiser skills have to reflect this.

Change is a foot in the conference and exhibition world and many event planners and event organisers will already be making changes in their events.

They may be adding technology where they have previously feared to tread.

They may be dismantling shell schemes and adding soft furniture.

Event organisers may be texturising their conference sessions with meeting design.

We may be jettisoning delegate bags, brochures, badges and all manor of things that cry out “we are changing!”

So if we want our events to be successful when we make these changes we must understand how our attendees will react to change and how best we can support it.

How do we add this must have skill?

I would encourage event organisers to devour the many books which cover behavioural change. Take a particular view of the tonnes of research around change and start to think about how we can use this information to better prepare our attendees for that change.

Because before we change our events we should do all we can to fully understand the reactions of our stakeholders to that change.

Here’s a couple of the books I’ve read recently which have a lot of wonderful stuff on supporting change:

Positive Linking – Paul Ormerod

Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

And one wonderful behavioural model by BJ Fogg

12. Be an unsurpassed networker

In an increasingly connected world, it is exceptionally important that event organisers are not left behind.

We have to be able to call on other planners; great speakers; short notice reliable suppliers and a host of support professionals who can help us improve our event. Networking is crucial for the majority of your attendees so lead by example.

13. Be an event creative

Creative events are already stealing your audience so it is time to start to look creativity at how you can improve the experience and value of your event.

Let’s create events not just organise them.

14. A sales person

Your events can do so much for your stakeholder and your organisations.

Your events can do more for your attendees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and it is your job to ensure that everyone knows how valuable you and your events are in achieving business crucial objectives.

You have to sell the idea and the execution of an event as the best possible solution to their problems.

15. An interaction expert

Successful events are all about creating the right interactions.

Be that between the audience and the speaker or the attendees and the exhibitors.

Planners must really understand how different audiences want to engage and support that engagement.

16. An event attendee

This should be a new entry in your job description.

Event organisers will be better at their job when they attend more events.

They should seek out the events that are doing things differently and they should attend as many other events as possible. And I mean any event, not just business events. We can learn so much from every different type of event.


And I mean any type of event! Here’s what I learned from attending:

A rodeo

A tomato throwing festival

A basket ball game

17. Be a magpie

We don’t have every minute spare to create new ways of doing things so don’t reinvent the wheel: learn from other #eventprofs.

A skill for an event organiser, for sure, it the ability to cherry picking or ‘borrow’ from the best events and they should be using other events to benchmark exactly how good they are and what they do differently.

I can’t stress this enough. There are so many things we can learn from other events. We have to learn from the best events. Being able to pick the best things from other events we visit is a hugely important skill for an event organiser.

18. Shine in the limelight

Event Planners love being behind the camera and off stage, making sure everything works: it is there that most planners thrive.

But it is time that more planners took to the stage, grabbed the microphone and started sharing their experiences. Our industry is full of the same old (normally men) who stand up and talk about events. It’s your time to shine.

19. Use data to improve your events

Owing to the nature of our events, we are surrounded by data.

And it is time that #eventprofs did something with it. Big Data provides wonderful rich information for planners and many event technologies are now collecting a cornucopia of data for planner to use.

Let’s start using it to improve our events and the bottom line at our events.

20. Be social

To properly understand our events, event planners have to be social.

It is great to see an increasing number of event planners blogging and taking part in twitter chats and forums. The #eventprofs community is an incredible rich place for every planner to use.

Planners have to share, follow, post and engage. If we become super users of social media our events will reap the benefits.

Learning from other events. You are never too old to learn!!!!!

Skills needed for organising seem to grow year on year so here are some more skills that the modern day event organiser needs to focus on!

New event organiser skills will really help you develop, and stay at the very cutting edge of your profession.

So here is our continuing list of event planner skills that the cutting edge planner should add or hone…..

21. Become a listener

We have to ensure we listen to our stakeholders, our attendees, visitors, exhibitors all the way through the whole event management process.

More than ever people are willing and able to give us their opinion. We have to collect, monitor and act on these opinions.

In an environment of increasing competition we can no longer simple move on to the next event; we have to listen to our stakeholders.

22. Understand the indirect and direct impact of your events

The more events we run, the more of an opportunity we have to make a positive impact in the locations we run our events, or at least to minimise the negative impact we may have.

I have covered the impact of tourism / events in Barcelona to help educate the events community. I think more event planners should be, at least aware, of the “impact”, both positive and negative of our events.

23. Understand the power of live video

Live video is already playing a huge role in our events.

Julius Solaris at EventManager blog pointed to it being the most important development to hit events in years!

I would agree that it is important for events and it is a crucial skill for any event organiser. It is essential that event planners familiarise themselves with the technical aspects of live video. It is a space that is continually evolving.

More and more events are moving online.

24. Buddy up

Planners can reduce costs / save money by “budding up” with other planners.

Bulk buying and working with other planners (both internally and externally) is an area that will quickly and impressively add value to your events.

Too often we just don’t have the time to ask our network for recommended suppliers or rarely would we ask to buddy up for pruning services or transport. Time to change! Time to buddy up!

25. Become a quick fire designer

We have to promote our events using more engaging material.

The modern event planner can knock you up a cracking flyer in only a few minutes.

This is becoming an increasingly important part of the modern event planner’s arsenal. Basic design skills are fast becoming crucial for any role which has to create engaging content. Start by looking at Canva, it is the BEST online design site you could find.

26. Boost your project management skills

As our events become ever more complicated, event planners have to master the project management discipline.

Not only do we have a lot of complicated tasks to oversee, or complete ourselves!, we are also likely to have to manage a number of staff and contractors.

Events have always been closely tied to project management, but that relationship is becoming much closer. Add some project management skills and you are going to be an event planner this is forever in demand!

27. Know how to find the experts 

To deliver the best possible event is becoming increasingly impossible for one event organiser or one small team.

The successful events are adding experts to help them deliver the best possible event.

The modern day event planner does not have to be an expert but they do have to know who those experts are. This is perhaps the most important aspect of this list of the top 30 skills for an event planner.

The modern event planner must have a “little black book” or at the awareness of the need to jump on and search for those who can help them deliver better events.

We have now reached our final 3 vital event manager skills. And to complete the list I want to look ahead. These are the skills you should be adding NOW.

28. Become a problem solver

One of the most in demand skills of the future is the ability to solve problems. And who is better trained and better prepared than an event organiser?

We have developed this skill almost on a daily basis. Just think about today. I bet you have already solved a challenging problem already!

We have to think about this skill on both a macro and a micro scale.

We have to be ready to solve the huge problems for our organisations. Perhaps it is a fall in sales, a demotivated staff, a business struggling to cope with its negative environmental impact? We know that events can help businesses solve these problems.

And on the micro scale every organisation wants someone who says “no worries, leave it with me” As we somehow manage to make a minor miracle happen (I think every event that is well delivered is a minor miracle) when challenges of budget, location and resources seem to be everywhere!

29. Become a visual communicator

This event manager skill transcends every aspect of our role. From how we sell and pitch our events, or our event ideas, to how we assist speakers to deliver their content.

We have to move away from text as our default way to communicate.

30. Become a storyteller

You can not underestimated the power of a good story. A strong narrative can be found behind the best events in the world.

If we want our events to tell stories, we have to understand how to tell them ourselves. This may sound simple, but it will be a big challenge for event professionals. Why? Well, we are normally quite direct and often very matter of fact.

We get things done. We act. We get stuck right in.

Becoming a storyteller means we have to sit back and construct a powerful story. We have to take people with us.

Similarly to skill 29 this will transcend our job. The stories that our marketing tell, the stories that our speakers present to our audiences.

So that’s our list of 30 must have event organiser skills.

event organiser skills

Telling stories and communicating visually are two of the most important new skills for event organisers to develop

So what skills should event managers across the globe be focusing on as we get set to move into a new decade?

As we head into a new decade we have to make sure we concentrate less on event specific training and more on learning the last three skills.

Will we have this list of skills forever?

Well, our jobs are set to change, but most of the core skills and tasks are likely to be with us for a few more years.

But I have to stress the “few” more years. Change is coming.

In the coming years (depending on the organisations you work for or with) we may not need to be masters of all of the skills we have previously required to perform our jobs.

That is because Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be taking on many of the traditional skills: yes I know it is annoying, the ones we have spent so long developing will be replaced by some machine learning. But……..

Change is coming.

But we still have to sharpen up on all of these skills. They are ALL needed now.

The 2020s really will be a transformational decade for the events industry.

And as an event professional you will have to start to find the new skills that will be needed, the ones that will replace the more event based skills on our list of 30 must have event organiser skills.

The most important point to consider as we move from the information economy to the connection economy is that our skills will have to be universal.

As the next decade unfolds, event managers will have to develop truly transferrable skills. We have to be less event managers and more highly skilled connectors, who just happen to run events. That is why we have to concentrate on the last three skills on our list.

Now that sounds like a challenge that I know most event professionals will relish.

So, what does this mean for event professionals now?

Of course we will still need to know how to run an event. We will still need to understand, if not actually oversee, how an event is marketed and sold.

We must still understand contracts.

We have to keep on top of health and safety and event logistics.

Simply put this list is super important NOW.

However, more and more of those tasks will be taken over by automated and intelligent systems.

Artificial Intelligence will be able to read and amend a contract.

It will be able to construct a conference programme.

It will be able to write and schedule 100s of social media posts about your event.

It will set prices that will maximise your profit.

It will be able to collect and report detailed feedback on every element of your event.

It will do many of the things we have been doing for decades. And in some of the examples above, it ALREADY IS DOING these things.

The list of top event organiser skills is set to change FOR SURE!

But for the moment this list is the definitive must have skills for any event organiser.