1. Ask for feedback during the event.
If you have several different speakers, sessions, or presenters, you’ll want to make sure that you evaluate each one separately. Asking attendees immediately after seeing a speaker or session is the best way to get specific information about that session or event. Make it easy to complete surveys or questionnaires by handing them out after each session. You might consider offering a prize or entry in a raffle for those who complete questionnaires.
Demographic questions such as race, gender, and age help you analyze your survey results. However, many researchers recommend asking for that information at the END of a survey instead of the beginning to prevent them from influencing answers.
If your guests or attendees come from various industries or work at multiple levels (executives and new employees), collect that demographic information. Knowing if a session or event worked for everyone or just a tiny subset of people is essential.
2. Ask for feedback after the event.
It’s essential to gather feedback at the time, but it’s also good to allow your attendees time to think about the event as a whole. Consider emailing your attendees more general questions after the event.
If you aren’t sure what questions to ask in-person or post-conference surveys, consider hiring a professional evaluator to help you. Knowing what questions you want to ask before you ask them will help you make the best use of your survey answers.
3. Check your budget
After your event, you’ll want to revisit your budget and discover what costs more and less than you expected. Knowing how you did on this year’s budget will help create a more realistic budget for your next event.
Checking your timeline leading up to the event can also be helpful. Did staff have to work overtime to make the event successful? Did things feel rushed, or was it hard to make plans because things were planned too far into the future?
4. Talk to your co-planners and staff.
In addition to surveying attendees, talk to other people involved in planning and working your event. No one can be everywhere at once; your staff and other people who worked at the event will have a different perspective than you.
5. Share your findings
Good or bad, it’s essential to share the results of your surveys with the appropriate people. A post-mortem or debrief session can help you and your co-organizers make the best use of the information you’ve gathered.
Make sure you save all the information you gather about your event in a way that’s easy for future event planners to recreate your successes and avoid your stumbling blocks.