by Diddi Johnson, COO of Bona Dea Private Estate, Prof Skae


Top six qualities that show you are a natural event manager


Event Management has come leaps and bounds in the last few years and is now an all-encompassing job that requires a certain type of person to execute it to perfection.  This career has been ranked as one of the most stressful in the world and is certainly not for everyone.  Having been in the industry for decades, here is my list of six qualities I believe a natural Event Manager should have.

1. Passion and crisis management skills:

You need to have a burning passion for event planning, organisation and dealing with people on a daily basis including quick, effective decision making.  Unfortunately many people make the mistake of thinking this is a glamorous job which it certainly is not. You must be prepared to get your hands dirty and work incredibly long hours and you must be able to handle any crisis that may arise without stressing out your client or involving them in such matters.  Keeping a cool head is essential.  Address any crisis that has arisen swiftly and creatively and remain calm!  The team you are working for must know exactly whom is responsible for what and the protocol for every situation.  The rewards can be wonderful in this type of career although it is certainly not for the feint hearted.

2. Great interpersonal & communication skills:

Being an outstanding listener is paramount.  When managing events you will be working with several separate teams for each aspect of the event, so you must ensure that you listen to every team member and more importantly that you understand what your client expectations are.  Regular feedback (I suggest it’s done in alphabetical order) on your report chart helps tremendously to keep clients calm with the assurance that you are in control of matters.  Such a report chart that’s constantly updated keeps the entire project team in the loop as the function planning develops.

3. Perfect organisational skills:

Many skills can be learned but if you are not born with a natural flair for organisation you most certainly will get yourself into serious trouble.  No assumptions can be made – you have to be sure and nothing can be left to chance.  From suppliers to vendors,  programmes to guest lists (including the correct spelling of those guest names), delivery or installation schedules and  breakdown after the event – these are all  examples of what you will need to keep very careful track of.  Don’t forget to save important contact details on your phone, computer and action sheets.

4. An eye for detail:

Detail, detail, detail!  There is no escaping this essential skill.  Briefs and scope of work often change and are constantly adjusted, so you need to keep track of every change, request, adjustment and offer alternatives when necessary.  Whilst suppliers and service providers should be responsible for their own departments, the truth is if anything at all goes wrong, you as the co-ordinator or Event Manager will be held responsible.  I make a point of triple checking things and my philosophy is to rather prevent an unfortunate situation than, deal with a crisis.

5. Superior time management skills:

Time management skills can be learnt although some people just have the natural ability to manage their time effectively.  Know the priorities and deal with them accordingly.  You will most certainly always have to juggle a number of tasks at once to ensure all is executed accurately and within the deadline.  Be aware of external factors (such as the weather for instance) that can affect your management.  If you can think on your feet and you are a natural problem solver (without falling into panic mode) you will be well equipped for this career.

6. Being creative and innovative:

Every client and bride wants their event to be special and unique. This will require you to think outside the box and come up with amazing creative while ensuring that you remain within the budget.  When something is simply not achievable within a certain budget, be honest, upfront and straight with your client about it.  Best is rather to under promise and over deliver.  Clients will appreciate your honesty, integrity and being dependable.  Successful careers are built and maintained when you adhere to the universal language of behaving honourably and keeping your word.

Whilst being an event manager is extremely stressful most of the time, it is exponentially rewarding and a great creative outlet. Seeing an event go perfectly and witnessing the joy and happiness of your clients and their guests is priceless.

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