There’s no denying the emotional toll people take on when planning an event, whether hosting a wedding they’ve dreamed about for years or coordinating a corporate soirée to meet the board’s expectations. So for industry professionals, a positive client experience is about more than just beautiful design and a punctual timeline. Navigating the event planning process with clients requires a keen sense of emotional intelligence and the ability to manage emotions—not just your own but those of your clients.
The average event client has little to no experience hosting a large-scale event, so they turn to experts for support and guidance. But beyond that, they look for emotional hints, often mirroring how you react to difficult situations.
Thus, it’s essential for event professionals to master the art of emotional intelligence (EI) to stay calm and collected, even in the face of disappointment. EI reduces stress, supports efficiency, and brings joy and reason back to events, which results in success for everyone involved.
But it’s not just your EI to consider; you must also assess prospects to determine whether they’re an emotional fit. You might be a pro at supporting high-touch clients, or you may prefer a more hands-off approach—so you need to identify EI in others to ensure you only work with those who match your emotional expectations.
Use these techniques to get a better grasp on EI in prospects so you can book the clients you love to work with most.
Harness your brand messaging to attract the right people.
Attracting leads with high emotional intelligence relies on how you present your brand. For example, if you thrive while working with high-touch clients, focus on the emotions associated with planning an event and how you solve the problem! On the other hand, if you prefer no-fuss clients, be clear about expectations from the start. Set boundaries in your website copy, FAQs, and social media content. How you position your brand messaging will attract the right people for you!
Use sales calls to vet prospects.
Just like you inquire about budget to determine if you can meet a potential client’s needs, you should be gauging their emotional responses as well. Ask open-ended questions to get a feel for how they talk about the process and the people involved. Do they seem hard to please, or are they inclined to go with the flow? Discuss potential “worst-case scenarios” and ask how they’d react. For instance, what would they do if a guest spilled red wine on their dress? Their responses can be very telling!
Tell them why they’re a fit.
If they pass your EI test, let them know! Say something like, "I'm so glad you answered my question that way! It tells me you approach things in a healthy way, and that's important to me because this is a long process, and you're bound to face challenges along the way. I like to know we can work together with aligned values." Simple! Such an acknowledgment demonstrates your respect for them as individuals and builds trust in your ability to navigate the process together.
Embrace the power of referrals.
If you determine that a potential client is not a match, lean into your network and refer them to someone else in your market that you know would enjoy working with them. You don’t need to explain why; simply tell them your referral would better fit their needs. It’s a much softer approach than a firm “no,” releasing both parties from a potentially unfit working relationship.
Develop your own EI to influence others.
Remember: Clients often follow your lead, so staying calm and communicating clearly is half the battle. As long as you remain solution-oriented, you can overcome many hurdles along the way. In many ways, EI simply comes down to communicating and keeping people informed. Fortunately, these skills can be developed, so don’t hesitate to seek resources to enhance your emotional intelligence. Not only will it make you better at your job, but you’ll also find more joy in your life!
Every business owner wants to work with clients that share their values and won’t cause additional headaches. The ability to spot emotional intelligence in others is vital for cultivating a client experience that is smooth and stress-free for everyone involved, so put your EI lens on and start practicing!
After a decade in weddings and events, Amber Anderson, founder of Heavenly Day Events, pivoted her career into coaching others while maintaining a role in her planning company in Austin, Texas. As the host of Refine for Wedding Planners, Amber desires to coach and mentor planners via the largest Facebook group exclusively for wedding planners by offering a course, retreat, membership and templates.