Attendee-feedback is a highly sought-after resource. Not only can it help you prove the return on investment for corporate events, but it can help you see whether the impact of the event was the one you wanted — that is, did the message you planned to deliver land, or did attendees have fun but wonder about the point of the event? And of course, feedback is invaluable when planning future events.
There are countless creative ways to gather feedback from attendees. For example, there are classic pen-and-paper questionnaires, in-app surveys, exit polls, anonymous feedback cards, and company email or intranet surveys.
While there is no downside to collecting attendee feedback, it can be challenging to get the specific information you want, as well as a meaningful response rate. Here are some best practices to ensure you get a useful quantity of feedback after an event.
1. Less is More
When attendees leave your event and are thinking about the things they liked, the things they didn’t like, and what they would do differently, that is exactly the type of information you want to tap into. Asking for those thoughts allows you to not only capture all of the information, but provides the ideal forum when people are happy to contribute.
When attendees are feeling engaged and motivated to respond to a request for feedback, the last thing you want to do is inadvertently turn them off by overwhelming them with too many questions. According to Survey Monkey, 45% of people aren’t willing to spend more than five minutes filling in a survey, so discovering that a poll is 50 questions long will make them more annoyed than inspired to help you out.
Your best bet is to identify the most important things you want to know, then use the fewest number of questions possible to get that information from attendees who are ready to return to their busy lives.
2. Be Picky — Keep It High Level
Another way to keep your surveys simple and provide more opportunity to get at what you really need to know is to avoid being too granular with the questions. If you want to know what attendees thought of the catering, ask about the food, but don’t ask a question about each meal and snack.
The trick with any post-event evaluation is to be selective, thoughtful, and strategic about the questions you ask so you can get at the insights that will help you improve and keep the most valuable aspects intact for your next event.
3. Ask Some Open-Ended Questions
While Survey Monkey found that 87% of respondents prefer multiple choice questions over open-ended questions, the true thoughts of attendees will give you far more actionable information because they can share much more detail. The trick is to make open-ended questions optional so that people don’t abandon your survey when they don’t want to add a text-answer.
Another best practice here is to include a text field under your multiple choice questions and rating scales so that if someone feels like they have something to add specifically to a question, they can expand on their answer right there.
Open-ended questions are your chance to hear what attendees have to say, so make it as easy as possible for them to do this. You never know, there could be some revolutionary ideas revealed this way.
4. If It’s Supposed to Be Confidential, Keep it Confidential
Whether it’s feedback from an event attendee, or an employee’s feedback at work, no one appreciates when something they share is supposed to be confidential but ends up shared. This is a surefire way to lose attendee trust in the process and grind the feedback loop to a halt.
If you tell attendees that their honest and genuine feedback will be kept in confidence, then stay true to your word.
5. Timing is Everything
There are different times to ask attendees for feedback, and you’ll want to tailor the length of the survey and the types of questions to the timing. For example, if you want to get a few thoughts on each session, the time to ask is at the end of each session. If you want to collect feedback about the event as a whole, you need to be careful about when you ask.
While exit surveys are a popular way to collect feedback, they have their pros and cons. They catch attendees in the moment and while everything is top of mind, but for some people, this isn’t enough time to think through what they just experienced. They may complete the survey on their way out only to think of valuable insights a few days later that are then lost for you. In addition, at the end of the final day of an event, many people may be in a rush to catch a train or flight, and may decline to fill out a survey, or rush through it.
Perhaps a better time to ask for event feedback is a few days to a week after the event. That way people have had time to process the experience, and can answer your questions at their convenience. Whatever time period you choose to gather attendee feedback, think it through and run it by some members of your team — or even a few attendees prior to the event — to ensure you get the timing right.
6. Actually Use the Information
If you are putting all of that effort into creating a post-event feedback plan, selecting the right questions, setting up the perfect timing, and so on, make sure to actually internalize the feedback and use the valuable insights to inform your event planning process. If you don’t, you’re doing a huge disservice not only to your own success as the event professional, but to your attendees and stakeholders as well.
The lesson here is, if you’re going to ask for feedback, use it to your advantage to plan a better, more engaging, and more memorable event next time.
Collecting meaningful attendee feedback after a company event can be challenging, but there is so much value in doing so. From improving future events to demonstrating the return on investment to stakeholders, asking attendees for feedback gives you insight you would otherwise not be able to access. Fortunately, most people want to tell you what they think as long as you make it easy for them to do so — keeping it short and high-level, providing opportunities for people to expand on their answers when they are willing to, keeping your word that you’ll keep it confidential, making the timing convenient for them, and actually implementing the valuable ideas, will all help you to get the meaningful feedback you need.