The Top Event Planning Skills You Need to Succeed in 2022
As more variants crop up and event planners around the world wait for a return to in-person events, one thing is certain: Virtual and hybrid event planning skills are no longer optional.
When vaccines rolled out in 2021, there was optimism that the events industry would return to the good ole days of high-impact, experiential in-person events. Unfortunately, because of this hope, many event organizers have avoided mastering the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly hybrid and virtual ecosystem.
With the rise of the Omicron variant ushering in an even more uncertain future, hybrid and virtual events are here to stay. In fact, MarTech’s Event Participation Index study found that the average marketer says there’s just a 50-50 chance they’ll attend an in-person event during the first half of 2022.
That being the case, there’s no better time than now for event planners to develop the event planning skills they need to succeed in 2022 and beyond. Keep reading to learn more about the event planning skills you need in order to deliver event experiences that attendees won’t forget anytime soon.
What are the skills needed to be an event planner?
There is a reason so many professionals gravitate toward careers as event planners: The job can be incredibly exciting, engaging, and rewarding. Yet, at the same time, it can also be profoundly stressful and chaotic. Case in point? When the pandemic first rattled the industry, event planners were forced to rapidly pivot to virtual events.
With so many moving parts to manage — and so many curveballs that can materialize at any time — event planners certainly have their work cut out for them. Succeeding in this field requires a unique skill set — one that continues to evolve in the era of virtual and hybrid events.
Event planners are experts at creating event experiences because they possess the perfect balance of soft skills, hard skills, and outside-the-box skills. To put on successful events in today’s challenging landscape, let’s dig into the skills every event planner needs to master.
1. Organizational and Management Skills
The most effective event planners possess superior organizational skills. They’re incredibly detail-oriented, stick to schedules, and fight tooth and nail to stay within budget. They’re also keenly aware of schedules and ensure that crucial communications are never delayed.
To execute large-scale global events for hybrid and virtual audiences, the best planners use project management and other organizational software to keep tabs on every critical piece of information about an event. Whether they need to pull up contracts or get in touch with a vendor, the top event planners don’t waste time tracking down information because they know exactly where it is.
In the face of endless deadlines, successful planners also need exceptional time management skills in order to make sure each event goes off without a hitch. With so many different responsibilities to juggle, event planners must be able to tackle the smallest of details while never losing sight of the big picture — or the budget.
2. Adaptability and Flexibility
The most talented event planners know that things rarely go exactly according to plan, so they’re highly adaptable and able to roll with the punches. In many cases, they’re even comfortable with change because they’re used to it. Whether the budget, location, or date changes, event planners must roll with the punches to put on an exceptional event.
Not only are today’s event planners experts at planning for a number of different scenarios, they’re also solution-focused and immediately shift to problem-solving mode when things go awry. No matter what situation they find themselves in, they possess the emotional agility needed to remain optimistic and open-minded, believing that everything will work out — because it has to, right?
3. Technological Savvy
In the age of virtual and hybrid events, it comes as no surprise that planners need to be more tech-savvy than ever before. Event professionals must be knowledgeable and experienced in the following:
- Virtual, hybrid, and in-person event management software that can make or break event execution and attendee engagement
- CRM and marketing automation tools that integrate with event software to keep their communities engaged and informed throughout the year
- Omnichannel strategies that deliver consistent experiences across mediums before, during, and after the event
Additionally, today’s event planners need to know how to deliver TV-quality video content, whether that’s sourcing the right partner, employee, or software to make it happen.
4. Communication Skills
Strong communication skills have always been a cornerstone of successful event planners. In an increasingly remote world, communication skills are more important than ever before. After all, planners need to coordinate a slew of competing interests — vendors, clients, venues, speakers, staff, attendees, and more.
Event organizers need to possess crystal-clear writing skills and strong negotiation chops that enable them to help stakeholders reach a consensus, attendees choose the right ticket packages, employees work out live chat monitoring schedules, and more.
Here are a few other communication skills event pros need to have:
- Planners need to be highly empathetic in order to work with multiple types of personalities with a range of priorities and emotions.
- Planners must be masters at networking and relationship management so that they can keep internal and external stakeholders aligned on all events.
- Planners should be skilled at vendor management in order to build strategic partnerships and maximize outcomes and impact.
5. Creative Thinking
Event planners must be exceptionally creative, particularly as we shift to a hybrid and virtual world. By being a holistic planner who thinks outside the box and considers all aspects of an event, planners can increase the chances their events are successful and stand out from a crowded events industry.
For event planners who spent years planning in-person events, creativity manifests in the form of a unique event venue, extravagant entertainment, endless swag, or innovative stage design. For virtual and hybrid events, however, creativity comes in different forms. Here are some questions creative event planners have to consider:
- How do I deliver a meaningful and comparable digital and in-person experience?
- How do I keep virtual attendees engaged and connected to in-person attendees?
- How do I get virtual attendees to show up at the event live?
- How do I help virtual attendees feel like they’re part of the event and not just attending another webinar?
As a creative event planner, you can answer these questions by sending pre-event swag boxes, offering engagement features like Q&A or live chat, or letting attendees create avatars as part of a virtual trade show.
6. Growth Mindset
Over the past two years, many planners have had to figure out how to plan, manage, and execute large-scale global events with multinational audiences because of the evolution of digital and hybrid events. Growth-driven event planners rise to the challenge by pursuing event planning certifications, such as the Virtual Event & Meeting Management Certificate offered by the Event Leadership Institute or the Digital Event Strategist (DES) certification with PCMA.
Even after a successful event, planners never rest on their laurels. Instead, they’re focused on learning what they can to make sure the next event is even better. Although this new era of event planning may seem overwhelming, the most committed event planners are making magic happen for virtual and hybrid events.
7. Data-driven and Analytical
Talented event organizers are data-driven and analytical by nature. At the end of each event, they analyze post-event reporting to assess what worked and what didn’t and use those learnings to guide future planning. Rather than make decisions based on gut alone, planners use data to challenge instinct and inform their next moves.
Event organizers also set goals and KPIs for each event and reflect on what they could do better next time if they didn’t achieve the outcomes they hoped for.
Take Your Event Planning Skills to the Next Level
Now that you know the top skills event planners need for success in the era of hybrid and virtual events, it’s time to continue your journey to reaching your full potential as an event experience leader.
Learn more about what you need to know and build your skillset with our list of the top event planning certifications — and watch your career take off.