It is great to get feedback from people as quickly as possible. It’s good fur us event planners but it may not be the best thing to help you improve your event. Only after getting back to the office after some downtime can we really reflect on an event. When a learning event like a conference has an objective of positively impacting your job and the service you deliver or the product you make you’ve got to wait a while to know if that objective is achieved. Event questionnaire should come in two phases.
So this blog post is about planners asking their attendees the right questions in their event questionnaires and looking at when they should be asking those questions. In my experience we often focus on entirely the wrong questions and at the wrong time.
Old school event questionnaires
Here’s what used to happen and in many cases of course still does. A questionnaire (normally paper) would be handed out on the day to attendees. The chair would mention a few times that the organiser “really valued attendees feedback” and that they really had to fill in the questionnaire. With such importance being placed on this document you would be right to expect a work of tailored beauty delving into the really important parts of the event. But think about the last questionnaire you saw at the end of an event; did it look like someone had put that much thought into it?
What we tended to find was logistical questions like: What did you think of the venue? What did you think of the food? etc. These aren’t the things we should be focusing on.
With this traditional approach we were also determined to get that feedback as quickly as possible. What that actually meant was that we weren’t actually getting honest and fair answers from our attendees.
The time is right!
The content of your conference should eventually lead to attendees making changes in their job. Change as the saying goes “does not happen over night” There is no way you can get a handle on the true impact of your event if you ask people before they leave!
New school event questionnaires
I have seen and filled in a lot of good questionnaires over the last year so it’s clear that things are changing. All of the good questionnaire can be broken down into a few key areas. These are the important areas that your post event evaluation should concentrate on:
- Enjoyment of the event
- Attendee role as ambassadors
- The learning that took place
- The networking and connections that were made
- The continuation of your involvement in the event
Now as my life as an events consultant is trying to make the complicated world of events as easy as possible. I also look at getting as much value as possible out of everything we do. And a questionnaire can really add value. And here´s how.
The following outline of my post event questionnaire has expanded on the important areas above and also demonstrates how even your questionnaire can be part of your content marketing strategy.
Your event questionnaire should ask some of the following questions in the five areas:
Enjoyment of the event
1. Did you enjoy the event? Was it an experience? Was it fun? Did you laugh? Did you meet interesting people? Did you use all of your senses at our event? Are there things that you are going to copy?
Attendee role as ambassadors
2. Did you tell people you enjoyed it? When you went home that night did you snuggle up to your significant other and bore them about the ´great event´? On Thursday did you find yourself chatting to random people about how good a time you had at the event? Have you already forwarded the link on and said to someone “you gotta go to this”?
The learning that took place
3. Did you learn anything that will (or may have already) affected the way you will do your job? This morning did you read a link or review a presentation again? Did you look at your processes and think: why do we do this? Is there a better way? Have you already binned your draft programme and are ready to start again? Is there anything else we can do for you that relates to the content we covered at our event?
The networking and connections that were made
4. Are you going to call or have you already spoken to any of our exhibitors or sponsors? Is there anything else we can do for you to help you get the most out of the services we recommended to you?
The continuation of your involvement in the event
5. Do you consider the event “over”? Or are you still checking the hashtag on twitter? Have you joined the post event group on LinkedIn? Are you meeting up with any of the attendees or the speakers? Are you now following interesting people´s twitter feeds, blogs etc.?
If you ask questions like this an attendee will look at these questions and think “oh, that´s WHY I went to that event! That´s what I was supposed to get out of it. That´s where I see the value!”
Here I go again harping on about value!
Or events have to be more than logistics. And it´s your job as an organsier to help your attendees focus on that. Because if they focus on the actual value they get then you will have to focus on the value you deliver.
Don´t just send your questionnaire once
Look at the questions again. Can you see how dynamic they are? The answers change over time. Maybe your attendee a week after the event answers every question negatively. But 3 moths later will they necessarily give the same answer? Ask them again and they may very well answer very positively.
Consider this. Maybe a month or so after the event this particular attendee did review their programme and they did add some meeting design. Well now that you mention it it becomes obvious to them that it was in fact down to your event! If something like this does happen do you think they will click on or ignore the “interested in attending next year” (which to them now looks like the ´see how much value we added to your job button´) which is strategically placed at the bottom of your questionnaire?
More about Value!
The key is to focus on the value from your event:
Who would have though a questionnaire could be so useful![iphorm id=2 name=”Gallus´s monthly Knowledge Base Email”]