Though you don’t necessarily need a degree to become an event planner, continuing education is a must throughout your career. Over time, standards change based on updated knowledge, and it is beneficial to know the current best practices.
While most continuing education focuses on marketing and leadership, here are some really useful courses that you may not have thought to take.
When I was in high school, I wanted to take a class on auto mechanics. My father thought it would be useless, so my mom signed the permission form instead. That one class has helped me out numerous times over the past 25 years, even though I have never owned my own car. It was especially useful when my family got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, and my father had no idea how to change it. Or even where to start.
Having knowledge outside of your specific focus will positively impact your relationships with both clients and vendors. And it will make your work easier. And continuing education is the key.
I recently took a trip where I had the chance to swim in a beautiful waterfall. I was about three feet away from my son when I heard him say that his arm was stuck underwater between two rocks (don’t worry, he’s fine, the arm was about two inches below the surface, and his head was always above water). When our guide, who was about 30 feet away and not swimming with us, heard his concern, he jumped in fully clothed and got to my son at the same moment I did.
The guide knew to push the arm down to get it free rather than pull it up like my son was trying to do. Plus, he knew how to check functionality to make sure it wasn’t dislocated or broken. My son ended up with a small scratch and slight bruising that was gone the next day. I’m sure I could have eventually unstuck my son’s arm, but the last time I was trained in first aid was in high school.
Knowing basic first aid will turn you into a hero in situations big and small. The Red Cross offers courses across the US throughout the year. The basic online Adult, Child, and Baby First Aid/CPR/AED course costs $35 and can be completed in less than 3 hours. Please note that the online-only course does not meet OSHA requirements for workplace certification while the online and classroom and classroom only courses do.
No one wants food poisoning. Food preparation for events is different than cooking in your own personal kitchen. Having a certification or even just background knowledge will give you confidence when visiting new vendors and returning to old favorites. If you know what standard food safety procedures are, you’ll be able to identify something that looks out of place.
The Culinary Institute of America has a free online course called The Food Professional’s Guide to Restaurant Safety and Cleanliness. This is a good overview of food safety and focuses on both the front and back of house.
Do you know how to read a financial statement? Do you even know what a financial statement is? If you run a business, financial literacy. Even if you have someone that does your bookkeeping and taxes, you will need to bring your accountant appropriate documentation. An introductory course will help you understand what your accountant is asking for.
An excellent place to start with these concepts is with one of the free courses that ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) offers on the educational platform edX. Classes include Introduction to Bookkeeping and Financial Accounting.
I love my iPhone, but for years I didn’t know how to get it to work for me. I would always get sucked into looking at fun stuff rather than working. Spending some time figuring out how to optimize your phone and computer will pay you back in the future by giving you more time.
Also, taking a course on the basics of the software that you use most often will help you to work more efficiently in the future.
- Do you write lots of emails? Learn about Gmail shortcuts.
- Are you always in Excel? Take a course on Coursera.
- Confused by event planning software? Thymebase has white-glove onboarding and one-on-one demos.
- Having trouble in Photoshop? There are plenty of tutorials available.
Learning how to better use the tools you already have will give you more time to do other, more productive things.
This, to me, is a subsection of hardware/software. Still, I feel it stands alone due to the importance of audiovisual in events. There aren’t many short courses available online, but you may get lucky and find a class depending on your location.
However, I’d strongly recommend carving out time to learn a little about the audiovisual realm. And as events go hybrid, it’s worth knowing more about streaming, greenscreens, and multi-camera angles.
Most AV people are true geeks about their work, and I mean that in an entirely positive way. They’ll enjoy sharing their expertise, so ask them questions. It’ll be educational!
Floristry and Flower Arranging
There are numerous courses about flower arranging and floristry online. Classes focus on floral design, centerpieces, care and handling of flowers, and more and will help level up your event design skills wonderfully.
While online classes are lovely, I’d strongly urge you to look around your neighborhood. Many florists offer workshops in their shops, and there’s something magical about working with flowers in that atmosphere.
Continuing education will make your current skills stronger. Combining event planning skills with other knowledge will make your work much more valuable.