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January Focus – Our Event Planning Masterclass – 4. Soft Skills

The fourth and final instalment of our January bite-size event planning tips for all you aspiring event planners!

This post is a bit longer than usual but, trust me, it’s worth a read!

What are soft skill I hear you ask?  The phrase ‘soft skills’ is often used to describe the skills which characterise relationships with other people, or which are about how you approach life and work.  In other words ‘how you are at interacting and getting on with others’.

There are some careers which have the notorious stereotypes of people known for having lower interpersonal skills. I’m not trying to cause an offence here but think IT, Accountancy or a Funeral Director…….anyway moving on swiftly.  In the business of event planning your ability to build relationships, have clear and concise information are EVERYTHING. I repeat, these skills are EVERYTHING.  So, let’s share our top tips with you.

  1. Communication

I haven’t listed this first out of coincidence. Communication is going to be the skill you use the most in this business. Whether it’s an introductory email to a potential client or supplier, a visit to a new venue or giving directions to delegates at a conference, you will be doing some sort of communicating. People with strong communication skills can build relationships, listen well, and vary their communication to suit the circumstances. You should be able to adjust your tone and style according to your audience, comprehend and act efficiently on instructions, and explain complex issues to colleagues and clients alike. Communication is also an important aspect of leadership, since good leaders are able to delegate clearly and comprehensibly.

 

  1. Negotiation & conflict management

Sometimes an argument is a good way to clear the air..Being able to negotiate with clients and, even more so, your suppliers will be an essential trick to keep in your toolkit.

To be an adept negotiator is to know how to be persuasive and exert influence, while sensitively seeking a solution which will benefit all parties. For example; your clients are captivated with a venue that will take up half their budget, doesn’t have the best transport links and won’t allow the use of external caterers.You have researched some comparable venues and know of 2 others that can meet their needs and are still gorgeous and enchanting venues.It’s your job to present them with your findings in a way that they can appreciate all the benefits and are willing to consider the other venues as options.They may well still choose to use their favourite venue, at which point you should be advising them of the pros and cons as well as the need to increase the budget!!!

Where you work with others there will always be conflict.When handled correctly you will be able to eliminate many of the underlying problems resulting in better relationships.

Follow our top tips for conflict resolution.

  • Treat the other person with respect. Do your best to be courteous, and to discuss matters constructively.
  • Listen first and talk second. Pay attention to different interests. They might say something that changes your mind.
  • Separate the person from the problem and understand that, in many cases, the other person is not (always) “being difficult”. There will be a real and valid reason for their position.
  • Set out the “facts” from a rational perspective.
  • Work together to explore options and be open to a new solution may exist.

 

  1. Flexibility / Adaptability

I’m not talking master yogi here. I mean willing to take a new approach, respond to last minute changes and generally work outside of your comfort zone. As long as you are working with clients then there is every chance that you will regularly find yourself researching new ideas and ways of working.Go with it.Event planning is about being creative and innovative! Your clients will appreciate your accommodating manner and it gets you some free brownie points!

 

  1. Manage stress & Time Management

I’m certain that is there is a top ten list of jobs requiring the ability to work to demanding deadlines and high stakes then event planner is amongst it. The whole reason people hire an event planner is because they don’t want the stress and headache of planning the event themselves!

If you get flummoxed at the first sign of ‘tone’ in an email then I suggest you seriously reconsider the path of event planning.You will deal with plenty of anxious and stressed clients not to mention trying suppliers.

 

If, however, you have a decisive attitude, an unfaltering ability to think clearly, and a capacity to compartmentalise then you may just be on the right track!

Time management goes hand in hand with the ability to work under pressure, as well as within tight deadlines. So first steps are to work out how you will manage your time.

I do an early morning check of emails and uploads to social media before hitting the gym.This allows me an hour where I can get on top of my day. An hour in the gym where I can release some stress before attacking the day.Find out what works for you.

Employees who manage their time well are able to efficiently prioritise tasks and organise their diaries, while adopting an attitude which allows them to take on new tasks and deadlines.Need I say more?

 

  1. Problem Solving

I’m almost certain that I don’t need to provide an introduction on this so I’m not.

Whatever issue you are faced with, there are some fundamental steps you should take to problem solving:

  • Identify the problem
  • Define the problem
  • Examine the options
  • Act on a plan
  • Look at the consequences

 

  1. Leadership

You don’t need to have a team of minions working to you to show leadership. Clients will seek to work with you based on your expertise so leadership is a good quality to have especially if you plan to work for yourself.

For me, leadership is being able to do all of the points already mentioned.

 

And this is it folks!

We hope you have found our January Focus sessions insightful. With a bit of luck you’ve been inspired to join the dark side. Only playing; event planning is a rewarding and fun industry to work in.Do let us know if you’ve found these blogs helpful and, as usual, please share your own tips.

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