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They say being an event planner is one of the most stressful jobs in the world (according to CareerCast and Forbes). It takes a certain kind of person to be able to manage that stress and still run a successful career!
Twenty years ago, most professional event planners “fell” into their career. There were no post-secondary courses or certifications to be had in our field. Nowadays, education and certifications abound and the Gen Y and Millennial planner has more post-secondary knowledge to take into the meetings marketplace.
Formal education, however, will only arm you with the knowledge required to perform the job required – what about the soft skills needed to get through the day-to-day?
The industry’s best planners possess a great amount of the following soft skills:
- Organized – this almost goes without saying. A meeting is a carefully choreographed series of events, pieces, people and other moving parts. Keeping organized is the only way you’ll get through the chaos of it all. They are skilled at systems to help keep them and their teams organized, and skilled at managing competing priorities.
- Energetic – especially on event day. Being a meeting planner is not for the person that requires 9 hours of sleep, and needs 3 cups of coffee in order to “get going” each day. Although sleep and coffee are staples in the meeting planner’s diet, when it’s go-time, everyone is looking to you to be “on”.
- Strategic – the industry is ever-changing and always evolving. Set ups for rooms, using AV to enhance a program, gamification – these are a few of the buzzwords being used now in meetings, and new ways of delivering meetings are being tested every day. A great planner will look at these new formats and evaluate if they are right for their meeting and incorporate. A good planner will not rest on “what has worked in the past”, but will look ahead at ways to reinvigorate and improve the meeting experience for their delegates.
- Strong work ethic – Unfortunately, having a lazy day is not an option for the skilled planner. It could spell disaster for your event if you lose focus on the both the big and small details for your event. Working hard reaps rewards, repeat clients and referrals to new clients!
- Problem solver – show me a planner who claims their meeting went off without a hitch, and I’ll show you someone who’s oblivious to reality. Even the best of the best have had surprise changes to their planning, its knowing how to handle the surprises that makes them great!
- Strong Communication Skills – clear concise emails to suppliers, factual voicemails and detailed agendas are necessary for event success. Type A planners do well here!!
- Loves to learn – whether they are learning about meeting planning techniques and skills, about their clients and delegates, or about productivity tips and tricks, meeting planners are always learning and always growing. It will help stem the stress levels as well!
- Fun!!!! Maintaining your smile and positive attitude through it all will reap career success long after the event is over. Keep smiling!
Looking to learn more about the anatomy of an event planner? Check out the following professional associations for further education, and to meet some fun and talented people!:
- Meeting Professionals International – mpiweb.org
- International Live Events Association – ileahub.com
- Professional Convention Management Association – pcma.org
- Okanagan Meetings and Events Café – from my little, beautiful, inspiring corner of the world
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