Update 4/11/17: After a year and a half, we’ve updated our list of the top event management books to include the latest, best reads. This list now contains 11 instead of ten recommended event management books.
While I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed an advertised shirt that said “Event Manager: Because ‘miracle worker’ doesn’t sound professional on a résumé.” Isn’t Facebook creepy that way?
The shirt’s quote isn’t too far off. Event managers organize staff, decide on event management software, act as idea marketers, and bring guests together in a miraculous fashion. It is virtually impossible for any event manager to know everything about these responsibilities, therefore outside help is always welcome.
Personally, I’ve almost always found the answers to my questions in books. As for you event managers out there who share in this enthusiasm, I have built a list of books that all event managers ought to read. This list was curated out of the most frequently suggested event management books on Amazon and Goodreads.
Books are listed in alphabetical order.
Author: Todd Henry
You can’t put a price on competence. The ability to problem solve and come up with new ideas on demand is developed over time and in the end is an invaluable skill for event planners. Todd Henry explores how to develop this skill without all of the stress that comes with on-the-spot planning.
“Today’s prospects and clients expect more from you than ever before. They want you to bring them ideas, insights and information that can help them achieve their objectives. Unfortunately, it’s darn near impossible to be “brilliant at a moment’s notice.”
According to author Todd Henry, “If you want to deliver the right idea at the right moment, you must begin the process far upstream from when you need the idea.”
In this excellent book, you’ll learn a process and tons of strategies to turn that into a reality at work — and also in your personal life. It’s well worth reading!”
Author: Robbin Phillips
No one wants to be just another number on a spreadsheet, yet to many people that is what marketing boils down to, even in event marketing.
“How many people are attending? What ages are they? How much can we charge them for X?”
Brains on Fire puts a human spin on marketing by focusing on relationships, interests, and desires in order to build effective word of mouth campaigns.
“A major thumbs up to the folks at Brains on Fire!! For those who are interested in understanding how to build a tribe of not just customers but true followers this is a “must read” book for your library. The crew at BOF understand that the new social media tools are powerful but they are in fact only tools. The secret is defining one’s message in a way that it empowers people to believe in your cause and want be a part of what you do. The case studies profiled in this book give wonderful insight on how to craft that message to build something remarkable (something everyone wants to remark about). Buy the book….you won’t be disappointed.”
Author: Judy Allen
It is hard to build a “best of” event management booklist without Judy Allen showing up at least once. The Business of Event Planning is the first of two Judy Allen books to make it on this list due to her vast experience as an event planner. Her guide on what goes on “behind the scenes” in event planning fleshes out the secrets of proposals, fees, safety issues and other less explored topics of event planning.
“Planning a corporate party or special event? Don’t lift a finger until you’ve read The Business of Event Planning. In this highly practical book, author Judy Allen covers every aspect of the process in exhaustive detail. Allen, an author, writer and experienced event planner, contends that events are more than just feel-good activities.”
4. Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, etc.
Author: Judy Allen
As promised, this is the second Judy Allen selection to take a spot on this list. Allen’s all-in-one guide to events covers so many topics that I actually had to cut the title short in order to conserve on space. If there is something you want to know about event management, from start to finish, this is the book to get your hands on.
“Having planned many events in the past six years, I already had a great “base” of experience. I was looking for a great guide to cover all the bases. This is it! Each chapter details all aspects of event planning and prompts you to think about how you can apply the suggestions to your own events.”
Author: Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s flagship book is an influential piece for any leader in any industry. Key concepts in the book, such as ways to make people like you, techniques in handling groups of people, and methods on winning others over to your way of thinking, are all useful tools for event planning and management. When leading groups of people, such as event management teams, you need to know how to win over those groups to work effectively for you. This book will teach you the “how” for influencing others.
“Many people have heard of the book, but few have actually read this very entertaining and informative instruction manual on how to connect personally with people to have a positive impact on others.
It’s a short and practical “how to” become a leader, how to bring value into your relationships, told in a winsome way with plenty of colorful, if somewhat dated, illustrative stories. Fun to read and share with others.”
Author: Mike van der Vijver
Have you ever been stuck in a dull meeting that would never end? I’m sure we all have. There are few instances where the word “meeting” is associated with adjectives like “fun” or “intriguing.” The best meetings are ones that are organized, informative, and efficient in the time they take up. Into the Heart of Meetings will show you how to make the most of your meeting planning through organization and communication strategies.
“After having worked for many years successfully designing meetings (something which few people can claim), Mike and Eric have been kind enough to share with the rest of us all their knowledge and experience. This book will not only open your mind as to what really matters in a meeting (its content) but it will also give you practical tools and tons of actionable ideas to start putting it into practice. I’m fortunate enough to be working right now on my first meeting design assignment for a client and can’t put this book down!”
Author: Chip Heath
Made to Stick was the book immediately handed to me on my first day at Capterra. Event planners, just like writers, are constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas and themes, but making those ideas stick is the real challenge. Made to Stick explores the theories and variables behind ideas that take hold so that your will know how to make your own grow.
“[Made to Stick] simplifies the concept of explaining or communicating anything! It changed how I express the technical aspect of my ideas and I learned to provide relatable images so other can understand and get onboard! Highly recommend it! You won’t regret reading this one!”
Author: Jason Fried
Marketed as a book for “hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of ‘downsizing,’ and artists who don’t want to starve anymore,” Rework is for anyone looking for a new way to run their industries and lives. This New York Times bestseller offers new and counterintuitive ideas to build productivity and build your brand, whatever it may be.
“I had to purchase this book twice. I purchased it the first time, read almost all the way through it on a flight from JFK to SFO. I ended up letting my coworker borrow the book before I could finish reading it and I never got it back, so here am on Amazon ordering it again. I finally finished it, and it’s a great read. Mostly common sense for someone who has already adopted most of the methodologies outlined in the book, but there are still thousands of businesses who need to embrace these practices, there’s something everyone can take away from ReWork. 37 Signals has created some very successful products, simple and powerful, and they’ve done it without the overhead of a huge staff or office… I like to call the strategies and practices discussed in Frieds’ books as ‘Business 2.0.’”
Author: Joe Goldblatt
Goldblatt interviews event planners, invokes case studies, and provides lessons on how technology is impacting events and how you can harness this progress. Special Events is THE textbook on event planning and technology.
“This is a very thorough book. I purchased the book for an event planning class. At first, I thought it would not have been a good purchase. But after looking through it, it was a GREAT BUY! I highly recommend. This is a book that you want in your library.”
Author: Meegan Jones
No one wants to go to the exact same event every year. Keeping events fresh and growing at a sustainable rate is no easy feat, but Meegan Jones’ guide will show you the way. This guide uses real-life examples, such as Burning Man, Reading Festival, and numerous other events to demonstrate these tips and concepts.
“Sustainable Event Management is a ‘must’ acquisition for any professional business or general library strong in events planning. It covers all the basics of how to hold a ‘sustainable’ event, whether it be a festival or gathering, and offers event planners and students a step-by-step guide to staging and managing the impacts of all kinds of events. From transport to water safety issues, this covers it all!”
Author: Mindy Weiss
No one ever forgets their wedding day, whether it was big or small. Making sure your wedding or the wedding you are planning is one that you will remember fondly requires tons of preparation, organization, and management. The Wedding Book will prepare you for the dresses, flowers, guests, and more to come.
“I bought this book as a gift for my fiancé (mostly so she would stop bugging me to get it for her). I actually read some of it too and really found it helpful. The book even had some sections geared towards guys which I thought was kinda cool – especially the list of what to stock the bar with and the different types of suits to wear since that’s all I will get a say in anyway.”
More Books for Event Managers?
Ready to get your miracle work on? After reading these books, you’ll likely be one of the top event planners in your field… until everyone else reads them, of course.
Have you read any of these books? Are there books you feel as though I overlooked? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.