Do you prioritise the event debrief?

If a former Red Arrows Squadron Leader is speaking about what makes a high performance team click it’s a good idea to listen. Search for the name of a high performing team and many people would sooner or later opt for the Red Arrows. Precision, dedication, creativity, bravery; it’s all there. And what did the former Squadron Leader put this down to? The debrief. What one thing do event planners time and time again avoid to do properly after their events? The debrief.

This was the key point in Jas Hawker’s excellent keynote presentation. He wanted his audience – made up of senior event professionals – to take away one very simple point: to avoid the debrief is to cement mistakes.

Why the event debrief is crucial

Without a debrief mistakes are seldom discussed and often hidden but what is worse is that they continue to happen. And we have to admit it: of course mistakes happen at our events. On site we work in such fast paced environments that planners are forced to make snap decisions. Sometimes these decisions are wrong and sometimes they are instinctively right. Analysing all of our decisions during a cool and calculated debrief supports us in mitigating the chances that those ugly decisions are repeated. Every event planner knows that finding time for the debrief will improve our next event. So why doesn’t the debrief happen every time?

Be honest who can say that they have a meaningful debrief 100% of the time after an event? As a leader of an events team I have all too often skipped the “post event” round up and I doubt I am the only planner who has focussed on the future rather than the past.

What stops us doing the event debrief?

As much as we know the importance of the debrief we feel the pressures to avoid it. The conveyor belt approach to the way we plan and execute our events stymies our train of thought. When you are an event planner the train only seems to move forward. Casting a glance back through the smoke and noise is a luxury that we rarely have.

Jas’s key point was a simple one: ditch the debrief at your peril. However unfortunately for planners and their organisations and ultimately their attendees the debrief is seldom visited. Now is the time to say hello to the debrief.

So today, stop planning the event you are in the middle of and review your last event. Even if it’s only 20 minutes: do that debrief. An authority higher than me recommends it. Working in a culture which embraces the debrief is a sign that a high performance team is sure to follow. And high performance event teams deliver high performance events.

Jas Hawker speaks for Mission Excellence and delivered the keynote address at Event Buyers Live 2015.

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Published On: March 9th, 2015 / Categories: Behavioural Change, Conferences & Congresses /