Tips and Tricks for Event Evaluation & Surveys

Team GTRTeam GTR April 23, 2021

Remember going to a movie in a movie theater? When the film finished, you’d be gathering your coat or cleaning up your popcorn and soda, and then BAM, the director puts in another bonus scene.

Who doesn’t love a bonus scene?

Evaluations are your event’s bonus scene. (Ok, we’re biased because we love analytics and metrics, but there is nothing wrong about being optimistic!).

Evaluations Help Event Planners:

  • Gather insights from attendees

  • Collect information for future event planning

  • Understand who attends your events and why

In this article, get the most out of your evaluations and learn about surveys – one of the most popular tools to gather attendee information. And since we love this part of event planning, we offer tips on closing the feedback loop to help response rates and share insights to help optimize your next event.

Evaluation vs. Surveys

There may be some murkiness between what to call information gathering after an event. Evaluation is the entire process of gathering feedback and insight from people. Surveys are one tool to get that feedback. You can use other tools, like interviews, focus groups, or metrics from your event technology platform.

How about an analogy? Evaluation is like travel, and surveys are a mode of transportation. Just like there are many ways to get from point A to point B, there are many ways to gather attendee insights.

survey airlines

Why Are Surveys So Popular?

Back to our traveling analogy, surveys are airplanes. They get us to our destination faster. With online methods of collecting data, we could be watching data roll in real-time to see what people think about our events.

Because they are so popular, often, planners will call the last step of an event “doing a survey” rather than evaluation. The focus is getting it done and crossing off a list.

But it’s not just about fielding or sending a survey to attendees. This step isn’t done until you have looked at and evaluated the data. What were you trying to achieve at this event? Who attended this event? What do they want to see next time?

Organizations have different data reporting requirements, but you are one step ahead for next year’s planning as long as you analyze and share findings with your team.

Closing the Feedback Loop

Having attendees take your surveys could feel very challenging. It’s as if they don’t like surveys. Giving up at this point would be the wrong thing to do.

Yes, people are asked to take a ton of surveys.

The flipside? People love to share what they think about a product. Look at the reviews for Granulated Sugar. Something as ordinary as sugar has received 2,583 reviews as of the publishing of this article.

How do we make your event as popular as sugar?

  • Close the feedback loop: Plan on sending a follow-up email to your attendees with information you learned from them. With a deadline for you to analyze your data, you’ll probably do it. It’s a great way to show you care and that you listened to your audience.

  • Short and often: With GTR’s survey module, we can program a quick 1 or 2 question survey for the end of every session. Prioritize these questions wisely. Do you need to know if the speakers work or if the content works? Then ask that. Leave an open-ended box just in case someone wants to share more.

  • Incentivize: Giving someone something in return may entice them to take part. Also, think about the person who was going to fill out the survey anyway. Isn’t it nice to give them something too?

Bonus Scene: Plan Beyond the Survey

When events in-person again, think about ways to open up to other modes of evaluation to supplement your surveys.

  • Testimonial booths: Set up a recording device in a private but notable nook. Have it staffed by someone who would benefit from hearing feedback – like someone from your research and evaluation team or a board member! Attendees leaving their review could sign a release so that if you needed their commentary for grant applications, you’d have their permission. In the meantime, virtually: Design a tab in your event technology platform with contact information for people to email or message you with their feedback.

  • Listening squad: Designate staff with a sticker or ribbon on their badge to be part of the listening squad. Encourage attendees to talk to these people when they have feedback about the event. Pro-tip: Give your attendees clear directions on what kinds of feedback (big ideas vs. logistics issues) to share with your listening squad! In the meantime, virtually: Designate someone on your team to be the listening squad. With a chat box or video chat, you can simulate the same experience as online.

In this article, you’ve learned the difference between evaluation and surveys, ways to increase survey participation, and ideas for getting real-time feedback. You know what our favorite survey stat is? That 94% of our clients rebook their virtual event with us. Get in touch with one of our event planners today!

Regards, Team GTR™ 👋

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