Survey: What Are the Event Manager’s Most Valuable Skills?

We’ve already discussed the event management skills your corporate customer really wants and what the event manager’s profession actually involves. With this article, however, we decided to dig deeper into the subject of the most essential skills an event manager should possess nowadays. We reckoned that the best way to find the answer to that question is TO ASK YOU, event profs. So we interrogated more than 150 event managers: “If you need to name just one skill an event manager should possess, what would it be?” providing them with 22 preselected answers: PR skills; Marketing skills; Sales skills; Organisational skills; Creativity/Creative thinking; Interpersonal/Communication skills; Attention to details; Flexibility; Time management skills; Team-player spirit; Leadership skills; Tech Savviness; Composure under pressure; Negotiation skills; Outside-the-box thinking; Planning skills; Project management skills; Ability to listen; Problem-solving skills; Passion; Self-motivation; Diplomacy. 

Yup, “all of them” is the first answer to come to mind, we know! No doubt they are all necessary in our profession. However, our point was to select the truly invaluable skills an event manager can’t do without. 

To make it even more interesting we also asked some top-notch event professionals about short justification of their choice.

Survey Summary:

According to the survey, “Organisational skills” turned out to be the most important skill an event manager should posses, followed closely by “Problem-solving skills”, “Interpersonal/Communication skills” and “Project Management Skills”. Among the most valued skills are also “Passion”, “Flexibility” and “Attention to details”. “Creativity/Creative thinking”, “Composure under pressure” and “Outside-the-box thinking” are the next to follow. Not far behind are “Leadership skills”, “Planning skills”, “Marketing skills” and “Ability to listen”. At the end of the queue are “Other” (where there were answers like “All of the above”,”Patience”, “Have a vision/concept”, “Crises management”, “Sense of humor”), “PR skills”, “Team-player spirit”, “Time-management skills”. The rest: “Negotiation skills”, “Sales skills”, “ Tech savviness” ,”Self-motivation” and “Diplomacy” weren’t acknowledged among the most essential skills of an event manager but shouldn’t be neglected if you really want to stand-out in the profession.

Now, let’s see which skills were chosen by our top event experts and why:

Project Management

Elling Hamso, Managing Partner, Event ROI Institute

“Professional project management ensures that all tasks are identified (the Work Breakdown Structure) with a procedure and output specification, that resources are made available (money and qualified people) and that everything is done in time and to the agreed quality specification. The project management system is of course online, providing transparency, quality assurance and significant cost savings. It is the only skill which on its own practically guarantees the success of the event.”

Composure Under Pressure

Shawna Suckow, Founder, Senior Planners Industry Network

“I believe composure under pressure is incredibly valuable, because when something goes wrong, everybody looks to us to solve the problem. We have to react quickly and calmly, and make immediate decisions with a level head.”

Leadership Skills

David Adler, CEO and Founder, Bizbash Media

“Event organizers who make a difference have to become true “collaboration artists.” They need a seat at the strategic table and not just the logistics table. Events are the new town square in all aspects of society and understanding the importance and translating that importance to the key decision makers in an organization takes leadership and respect.  It’s a given that execution will be flawless in today’s event world with professionals and leaders in charge.”

Organisational Skills

Rob Davidson, Managing Director, MICE Knowledge

“Because these are fundamental to the effective planning of events. Without these skills, anyone will be unable to manage the huge variety of tasks that are involved in planning successful events.”

Project Management Skills

Howard Givner, Founder & Executive Director, Event Leadership Institute

“Being a successful event manager relies on a range of skills; however if I had to pick one from the list it would be Project Management. At the end of the day, event planning is really project management at its core. You can’t manage a variety of vendors, clients, timelines, budgets, contracts, floor plans and tons of other elements over a long time frame if you don’t have solid project management skills.”

Interpersonal and Communications Skills

Helen Moon, Event Marketer, Helen Moon Events, Marketing & Communications

“You can be the most organised, the most creative and have the best attention to detail, be the best sales person, all fantastic attributes and absolutely necessary in events, however mean absolutely nothing if you do not possess the skills and ability to effectively communicate your needs, requirements and expectations and be able to interact on a personable level with your key stakeholders, who will be made up of people from all backgrounds and walks of life.  After all it’s a people industry that we work in”

Being Collaborative

Frank Supovitz, Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment / NFL

“Whether you are leading a team, serving a client’s needs, overseeing contractor or vendor negotiations, or working with the leaders of a host community, understanding the underlying needs and expectations of each stakeholder, and effectively communicating your own, is essential to delivering success.“

Communication Skills

Silvia Pellegrini, MD of Events Uncovered

“All event managers need to have excellent communication skills. They need to be able to listen, understand and communicate clearly, effectively, respectfully with all stakeholders.”

Being Content Strategist

“Being a project manager and coordinate logistics and operations used to be enough. I believe that in the future event managers need more skills. Why? Because the role of events is changing. Therefore, the event manager needs to be skillful in many roles. For example, to be content strategist, to understand the desired business impact, to be able to shape the content and create the right meeting design to get the goals achieved.”


Think you don’t possess all of the essential skills for being a top event manager? Don’t worry! The best thing about skills is that even if not innate, you could develop them from scratch. So just keep on working on the skills you lack or need to perfect to line up among the best in the profession!

We will be happy if you share your opinion on the topic with a comment below.

Featured image by condesign licensed under CC0 1.0