11 Books Every #EventProf Should Read

11 Books Every #EventProf Should Read

Even if you’re a seasoned event planner, you can always benefit from learning from others. You don’t have to work directly with other industry professionals to take away a lesson or two. Many of them have published their own works where they impart the best industry practices for excelling in the profession.

It’s definitely worth picking up a copy of one or more of these books to piggyback off the wisdom and experience of some of the brightest minds in the event planning sector (and beyond).


1. Into the Heart of Meetings: Basic Principles of Meeting Design


Author: Mike van der Vijver & Eric de Groot 

Mike and Eric are pioneers of meeting design. After working together for years, they decided to share their vast knowledge and experience with the rest of the meetings industry. The book is not only packed with mind-bending ideas but it also gives an array of practical tools and tons of actionable ideas. This is a must-read for anyone interested in designing meetings with impact.



2. Meeting Architecture: A Manifesto


Author: Maarten Vanneste CMM

In this manifesto, Maarten lays the basis for the profession of a meeting architect — a professional who works on the content side of meetings and strives to maximize the meeting outcomes. Meeting Architecture takes you through the steps for a more impactful event or meeting.

At only 157 pages, it’s a short read, but every sentence contains nuggets of information every event planner should set their eyes on.


3. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die


Author:  Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Planning an event is all about formulating ideas and putting them into action. However, some ideas just don’t seem to stick even though they carry potential.  Authors Chip and Dan Heath cover the elements of effective communication and how to make your ideas appeal to clients and fellow planners.

The steps outlined have been used by entrepreneurs, journalists, politicians, and many more.


4. The Accidental Creative – How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice


Author: Todd Henry

One of the greatest on-the-job assets is the ability to think quickly on your feet when presented with an unforeseen situation. In this book, author Todd Henry explains the daily habits and skills that anyone can put into practice for developing a more creative mind.

This way, a light bulb is more likely to go off in your head more often and right at the moments when you need it. Plenty of exercises are included to help you become an on-the-fly thinker.


5. Special Events (7th Edition)


Author: Joe Goldblatt

Here is a book specifically for event planners and written by someone with years of experience in the industry. Author Joe Goldblatt combines cases studies with the some of the well-established theories. This makes it an excellent choice for those that are just starting to get their feet wet in the sector.

The 7th Edition is revised and includes best practices that conform to current trends, such as the use of event technology and social media for attracting a wider demographic.


6. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose


Author: Tony Hsieh

Your corporate culture can make a huge difference in achieving remarkable results and delivering happiness to your clients. After all, that’s what we all strive to achieve in the events industry. Author Tony Hsieh, who also happens to be the CEO of Zappos, outlines the key concepts of fostering an environment that emphasizes on happiness rather than deadlines and profits.


7. The Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking


Author: Susan Cain

Event planning requires a lot of face-to-face interaction, both in the event planning phase and even during the event itself. One would think then that the profession is much better suited for a natural extrovert. Author Susan Cain, though, challenges this notion and provides the many facets and skills that introverts bring to the table.

This book is a must-read if you’re in the event planning industry and don’t exactly classify yourself as a people-person, or have someone on your team that fits the description.


8. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity


Author: David Allen

What’s more important in the industry demanding such as ours than getting things done? This book will show you how to get organized and how just a few minutes a day can enable you to get more done in less time. So here is your “Bible of business and personal productivity” as Lifehack noted.


9. Boring Meetings Suck


Author: Jon Petz

Event planning is seldom a one-man process. It takes a dedicated team to market the event and make it come to fruition. In the planning phase, there will be multiple meetings. Of course, sitting in a briefing room and brainstorming for ideas may not always elicit eager responses from staff members.

Author Joe Petz incorporates plenty of humor as he explains the keys to a successful meeting that is every bit as productive as it is brief.


10. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business


Author: Danny Meyer

This best seller is authored by successful restauranteur and entrepreneur Danny Meyer. Though written for those in the food service industry, it is recommended reading for just about anyone in the business sector.

This includes those who frequently interact with clients, those who train staffers and supervisors, and those whose business struggles from a high turnover rate. Essentially, if you’re in a leadership position, then this book is for you.


11. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Author: Stephen R. Covey

Since its original publication back in 1990, this book has become one of the mainstay titles in the self-help industry. It’s a must-read for anyone in any industry. The seven habits listed, though, are especially pertinent for those in the event planning profession where deadlines, stress, and last-minute changes are the norm.

The fact that the book has sold over 15 million copies and has been republished several times is a testament to its success.

Where do you find inspiration? What are your favorite books? Please share with us in the comments below. 



About the Author

Dan McCarthyDan McCarthyDan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.




Juraj Holub

Marketing Manager & Meeting Designer at sli.do/ Writing sli.do blog / Speaker and #EventProf Follow me on Twitter @Juraj_Holub

  • COS Rent 4 Events

    I’ll definitely be taking a look at some of these books, what a great list! What one was your favourite?

    • Thanks for leaving the comment. I very much enjoyed Into the Heart of Meetings and Made to Stick.

  • Awesome list Dan! Some of my favorite industry-related books are Three Feet from Seven Figures by David Spark, The Social Trade Show by Traci Browne, Nice Guys Finish First by Doug Sandler, and Special Events for Less by Katie Herritage. Beyond these, I’d recommend Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki (event planners could definitely benefit from the bootstrapping techniques he talks about) and the Art of War by Sun Tzu (great book on strategy). There’s others I’m sure, but those are the most top of mind.

    • Hi Michael, thanks for some great suggestions! I read the Art of War by Sun Tzu last year and it’s a super-relevant read for anyone in business who needs to make (hard) decisions.