You just wrapped up your event and collected the last post-event survey. Take a breath and some time to celebrate your work with your colleagues. But stay focused! This moment sets the great meeting planners apart from the average ones. Great planners dive into survey results and feedback, using the opportunity to find ways to improve their game.
Event data can feel overwhelming and impossible to sift through. What's the best way to approach this mountain of information? Fear not, because we've outlined 5 steps to turn that tangled thicket of feedback into a clear path forward.
Step 1: Schedule an evaluation meeting
Start your event evaluation process while things are fresh in your team’s mind. Set a date in the first two weeks (three at the very most) after the event. Book a room and give yourselves plenty of time. We recommend an afternoon, or better yet, a day. Arrange for lunch delivery to sweeten the invite.
Invite at least one stakeholder or representative from each department (more on this in the next step), and set expectations beforehand. If you want to hit the ground running, ask everyone to read through the responses and bring some of their own conclusions.
Step 2. Start organizing
Before reading through the surveys, ask yourself: which survey questions are most important? Which areas or pain points do you need to focus on? Write down your own goals for this process — it will help organize your time and effort.
Group the survey responses by team and responsibility, e.g. planners, marketing, operations and/or sales. That way, everyone can walk away with actionable next steps that they can own for the next event.
For quantitative questions (e.g. "Rate Your Satisfaction 1 to 5"), average out the numbers to get a general sense. Then take a closer look at any extreme outliers and see if the attendee left any additional comments.
Step 3. Choose the most valuable feedback
One simple way to prioritize feedback is to prioritize by audience. Some attendees warrant more attention than others. If there were key executives or VIPs in attendance, or sponsors you want to secure for the next event, pay close attention to what they had to say.
As you read through surveys, keep an eye out for patterns. If there's a pattern of negative feedback on one question, it’s calling for attention. And on the flip side, patterns of positive feedback reaffirm a job well done.
Also, are there areas you know you want to improve, but you're stuck on how to do so? Look to your survey responses for clues, tips and ideas straight from your audience. Keep in mind that if an attendee took the time to write a thoughtful survey response (especially in an optional comment field), it's worth taking the time to consider their thoughts.
Step 4. Use feedback to tell your success story
What were your goals for attendance, engagement, revenue and ROI? Compare your survey stats to these goals. Then, consider your company's overall goals and strategy. How did your event help the company hit these larger goals? How does your event ladder up to the company's overall strategy? Putting your attendee feedback in this context will help you shape your success story.
We also recommend using the SWOT analysis tactic while combing through your results. As you see SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) patterns in your feedback, be sure to capture them. Having this data will be super helpful as you plug them into the bigger picture and create future brand strategies and marketing plans.
Step 5. Look to the future
Now that you've read your surveys, are there any answers you need, but didn’t get? Write a list of ways that you improve your event evaluation methods for the next event, so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Then, set new goals. Challenge yourself and your team by retargeting any unmet goals and/or by setting even higher goals than last time. Commit to doing your best to meet them.
As you work on your post event evaluation blueprint, don’t miss our articles 11 Questions You Need to Ask Your Attendees Before an Event and 14 Questions to Ask in Your Post Event Survey.