Are you curious about what it takes to be an event planner or event manager?

If you’ve got a creative mindset, an eye for details and a love of collaboration, this gig might be for you! In this article, we’ll dive into what an event planner and event manager does and what skills you’ll need to plan and produce an amazing event.

What does an event planner or event manager do?

When most people hear the words ‘event planner,’ they often think of Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner — someone who plans events or parties. That’s why professionals in this space tend to prefer the title ‘event manager,’ ‘events coordinator,’‘events marketer,’ or even ‘events producer.’ While party planning can be part of an event manager’s tasks and a unique and challenging skill on its own, the actual role is primarily strategy-based. 

An event manager is in charge of defining the physical presence for a business or brand, basically deciding how a brand will show up in the real world. They define the why behind an event —whether it’s a pop-up event or a trade show or an industry happy hour — and coordinate the execution of the event itself. That means mapping out goals, identifying your audience, balancing budgets, collaborating with different teams and executing an event that best connects with your target audience. 

It’s a job that requires the ability to wear a lot of hats, an obsessive attention to detail, a love of collaboration, and a creative, out of the box approach. While that may sound overwhelming, it’s an incredibly rewarding job that has plenty of opportunities in any industry. 

But it’s also a profession that is changing with the times. Because the pandemic has shaken up a lot of what we do, let’s back up a bit.

What is an event?

This is a bit of a toughie. Every company defines an event in slightly different ways. Traditionally, it’s a physical interaction between your audience and your brand, whether that takes place in a conference hall, a video screen, or both. But increasingly, companies are starting to change up their definition of event management. 

Depending on your industry, an event can be an in-person panel discussion, a film screening, a podcast, or a launch party. That’s why event marketers are also sometimes called experiential marketers: they strategize and execute experiences, in all its many exciting forms. 

Right now, there’s been a lot of chatter among events people about hybrid events, which combine both the in-person event experience with a virtual one. Here at Vimeo, we’ve shifted our focus to virtual programming, which merges live conferences with pre-recorded video production. Other companies might look for an experiential marketer with podcast experience, or someone who knows how to produce a video series to promote their brand. 

While events do tend to run the gamut nowadays, there are a few skills that event planners will all uniformly need to do their jobs well.

What 5 skills do event planners need?

Project management

So much of the process of event planning and managing requires working collaboratively with different teams, keeping track of all the moving parts, communicating between teams and making sure everyone hits their deadlines. If you’ve got a project management certification, this is a job where you’ll put it to good use.

Organizational skills

There are a lot of different, unique elements and details that go into strategizing and planning an event. That’s why the most successful event managers are masters of organization and project management. An event manager works with multiple teams, juggles with tasks big and small, and needs to go with the flow because no two days are alike. Organization is key: you need to be able to document all your conversations, pull together agendas before meetings, and keep track of all the details in between.

Balance of creative and strategy

Of course, event managing isn’t just taking notes and managing teams. The role falls under the marketing umbrella—and being a successful marketer requires a different set of tools. Ultimately, an event manager decides how the company presents itself in real life to its chosen audience. They identify the audience, event goals, compelling messaging to speak with that audience, and allocate the budget that works best for that project. It involves an inventive, out of the box approach to come up with a great idea, and a logistical and analytical mind to make it a reality.

Ability to stay current

Trends change quickly, both in different industries and in the larger events space. Event planners should know what’s going on in events, as well as have a solid understanding of what their competitors and other industry movers and shakers are up to. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry will really help you figure out how to position your business and your brand, while remaining competitive in the space.

Ability to talk the technical language

Because of all the different departments event managers work with, it helps a lot to be able to clearly communicate a vision for an event and get up to speed quickly. Because I work at Vimeo, for example, I know what technical elements go into being able to livestream a webinar or conference — even if I don’t necessarily know how to produce it live myself (although, Vimeo Events has made it much easier for me to pretend that I have the technical skills). 

What you don’t need to be an event planner

  • An MBA 
  • A Masters of Marketing
  • A certification in Public Relations
  • Or any specific type of education at all! 

While some event planners do have MBAs or marketing diplomas, many do not. Event managers come from a wide range of backgrounds. I came into this job through film and theater — my first gigs were working with film festivals. 

Instead, you can really choose your own adventure in this field. If you’re interested in event management, think about the industry that appeals to you the most. If you have a background or interest in consumer packaged goods, or the music industry, publishing or tech, you’ll likely find tons of event management roles in those fields.

Almost every industry throws some sort of event, trade shows, conferences, or festivals. And where there are events, there’s a need for event managers. While no two roles will be exactly the same, each event manager builds a unique skill set that can apply across other marketing roles or other departments.

Plan your next virtual event