Written by: Jaclyn Lau

If you’re reading this post I’m going to assume that sometime in your career — whether you’ve been at it for two or 50 years — you have been responsible for planning a (work related) meeting, conference, retreat, seminar, or holiday party. And if event planning isn’t part of your regular “day job,” taking on the role of event coordinator can be downright overwhelming and frightening.

Oftentimes in smaller organizations and non-profits, the responsibility of designing and executing events will fall on the administrative/operations or marketing/communications team. But giving these responsibilities to individuals can drain time, concentration and energy away from their own set of important tasks. Also, these individuals may not have the right knowledge, expertise, or interest in planning that an event planner can provide.

I’m sharing my top three reasons why an event planner is an essential and key member in an event-heavy organization:

1. Knowledge and expertise

Event planners know what to do and what not to do. The ultimate goal of an event planner is to bring the details to life and execute a specific vision. Think about it: Would you want an inexperienced staffer to plan a key meeting where stakeholders, funders, or potential business partners will decide whether or not to fund a new program? No, you want a seasoned individual to worry about the minute details. Event planners are organized, detail oriented, and can manage all aspects of event logistics to produce a successful event. Why? Over the years I’ve developed a “little black book” of my favorite event professionals — this amazing network of folks become an extension of my team and work to ensure the success of my events. From this working list I choose vendors who are best suited for each event. For example, if I’m planning a fundraising gala, I’m going to choose the caterer that excels at servicing social gatherings instead of a corporate caterer. Having this insider knowledge is indispensable and avoids costly mistakes. And when things aren’t going according to plan, planners are the people you want on your team because we don’t get frazzled in times of chaos or crisis; instead, we keep juggling all the details, people, and priorities and go on with the show.

2. Reduces stress levels

When my colleagues have the time to eat, practice a speech, and network with partners/funders/stakeholders during an event without worrying if the chicken entrée is gluten free or why the sound for the video isn’t working, I know I’ve done my job. My team should not have to sweat the details on event day. I’m here to troubleshoot issues and ensure our event is a success.

3. Time

Event planners allow teams to focus on crafting unique and thoughtful meeting content and activities. Logistical planning takes a lot of time and energy — it is an added responsibility to already heavy workloads. The weeks leading up to the event are the most intense and this is when planning and management of details are most important. Teams distracted by content planning may sacrifice their event’s original vision for the sake of arranging and confirming the essential event tasks needed to run the show. And at the end of the day it really is a show. Event planners understand the deadline and workload expectations to pull off a successful event, while making it all look like a well-oiled machine.

Happy planning!




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