This Event Expert article focuses on event evaluation and specifically on the process of proving you’ve done a good job – delivered a successful event. It’s an activity we simply must do but in truth most of us could happily do without it!
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Proving the success of your event more often than not includes cajoling audiences to complete a survey. It’s time to adopt the ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’ mantra!
Let’s take a step back and look at the theory of event satisfaction. Ramkissoon, Smith and Kneebone 2014 suggested “Satisfaction is a psychological construct, viewed as an emotional response to experiences”. This means that your audiences’ strength of feeling towards your event impacts their behaviour and their future intention to return; warm to your company, buy your services and talk to others about your event (to share).
It’s an emotional response that triggers a behavioural intention. Not surprisingly, achieving high levels of event satisfaction leads to increased levels of repeat custom.
More strategy required…than tick this box please
If you view event evaluation as important then it needs to be an integral part of the event project planning process. Like planning an event it too is a process.
The Event Evaluation Process – in its’ entirety
(NB: depending on your event size / risk you may not need to do everything)
- Gain agreement from your event planning team and any stakeholders that an evaluation needs doing and that it will be resourced adequately and feedback acted upon.
- Agree what needs evaluating. What information do you need to know to reduce any uncertainty around key areas? You also need to agree if there are any parts of the event you are not prepared to change e.g. the venue will always be your offices. If this is the case then don’t ask questions about things you do not intend to change. You can now create a list of survey question subject areas.
- Create survey and agree type evaluation scales to be used e.g. Likert Scale, Net Promoter style. The survey methods are in the main: hard copy end of event survey: post event on line survey (options: create and run your own survey or use on line survey tools like Eventbrite, JotForm, Survey Monkey and Wufoo): in-depth interview 2-3 days after the event: Focus group: review of social media comments and or run a Poll.
- What’s the data say? If you have a registration process (you should) and use any of major event registration software, you should review the raw data that will contained within the form. For example, on registration you should always be asking for demographic, profiling and promotional information. This can be analysed to determine patterns and of course to make sure you have actually got the right people (your target audience) in the room. I would recommend asking a job title / key role question as part of completing any event registration form. You may also want to ask the same question on the post event evaluation survey form.
- Post event evaluation team and stakeholder meeting. At this meeting you want to discuss what went well, what could be improved and how can you increase return on investment. This meeting should take place no later than 1-2 weeks after the event and focus on things and processes and not people. Try not to make it personal.
- Event aim achieved? At your evaluation meeting you need to have a conversation about whether your event did indeed achieve its core aim. Are you able to proof it?
- Audience satisfied? With your survey feedback to hand you need to find out whether your event met your target audiences’ needs. Did they get what they wanted. Why did they come. What was the most popular / and least popular aspect of the event and needs changing? Using the Net Promoter style of questioning you can ask whether they would recommend your event to a friend or colleague?
- Improving next year’s event. With your audience feedback firmly in mind determine what are their current concerns or problems. What do you need to include in the event programme to meet their concerns? How can your event meet these needs and importantly deliver them in a format that is not already happening e.g. a competitor’s event?
- Create and deliver the plan. Set a big aspirational goal, supported by perhaps 3 SMART objectives or targets. I also suggest creating some milestones in your event project plan to track progress on achieving these objectives.
Just before you start, do consider whether you have the right mix of skills on your team: do you need to hire additional expertise and or train existing staff. Would better use technology help or is more money needed in the marketing and promotional budget?
So, there you have it – the event evaluation process. Done.
Events are the ultimate live marketing experience: a very public representation of how good you and your company are. Get it right and great things can happen. Get it wrong and that could be it forever! Yes really. So always deliver the best event you possibly can and when you ask for and receive feedback – it’s going be good. And we like good feedback we’re just not comfortable asking for it!
About Chris Powell, The Event Expert
I run an event management training and consultancy company (The Event Expert) delivering In-house Event Management Courses and On-Line event management training courses and event consultancy services to accidental, occasional and professional event managers. My objective is to give them the confidence and skills to design, plan, promote and deliver their own successful and rewarding events.
My courses are based on 20+ years of practical event management experience. I practice what I preach!
My clients come from the world of business, education, sport, the public and charity sector, training companies, tourism, creative agencies, universities and festivals.
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