Create an evaluation to fit the needs of people who will use them. If the results are not going to be used to document the event’s success or failure or to impact future events, then don’t bother with an evaluation.
1. Who should be evaluated?
- Sessions: Did they meet the educational needs of the attendees? Were the sessions interactive?
- Speakers: Did the speech match the session description? Were they engaging? Was the information presented new and interesting? Did they allocate enough time for interaction?
- Exhibitors: Were their products and services relevant to the audience? Did they engage the delegates?
- You could also provide an evaluation survey to the exhibitors to find out what was their experience like at the event? Did they meet any potential buyers?
- Venue: Were the delegates satisfied with the location, food and beverage, guestrooms, check-in process or venue staff/
- Audio-visual or other suppliers: Were the delegates able to hear and see the speakers and the information they presented?
- Networking opportunities: Did the delegates have enough time to network?
- Registration process: Was it easy and efficient?
- Organizing staff: Were the staff courteous at all times?
If you are already clear on some of the answers to the possible questions that could be on an evaluation, don’t bother asking them. Try to keep the evaluations as short as possible. It’s good to ask some of the same questions year after year to make longitudinal comparations.
You can evaluate every piece of the event and assess the delegates’ journey from the moment they found out about your event to the moment they left the event and even how they benefited from the event two weeks later.
2. How to design an evaluation survey?
An evaluation is only as good as the questions posed and how they are phrased. It is usually best to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, but limit the number of qualitative questions, which are time-consuming to complete.
Qualitative question = the respondent can describe the answer to the question in their own words (open-ended questions.) All other questions are considered quantitative questions.
Type of questions:
- Open-ended: What did you think of the event?
- Checklist: How did you get to the event (check one): Airplane; Bus; Own Car; Taxi; Subway; Walked.
- Two-way questions: Did you enjoy the event: Yes/No
- Multiple-choice or Rating scale (Likert scale): How would you rate the event? 1- poor, 2-fair, 3-good
- Ranking scale: Rank the following in the order of importance: room rate, airline rate, recreational facilities, spousal program.
Leading questions, omitting questions or vague choices for responses can ruin a survey.
Other things to consider:
- Keep the survey simple and short: one page if possible
- Ask specific questions addressing one single topic. Example of what not to do: Did you enjoy the food and the service of the hotel? Yes/ No (Two topics are addressed in this question: food and service)
- Check grammar. Abbreviations and acronyms are a NO
- Ask the difficult questions at the end
- Personal questions are to be answered in set ranges only
- Number all questions
- Keep the survey simple with fonts and graphics to a minimum
- Always thank at the end
- This might sound unusual but: People are more inclined to complete a paper evaluation surveys given on site than an electronic survey given sent after the event
- Software is available to help design an evaluation form, create a database, crunch numbers and generate reports
- If an evaluation questionnaire makes sense to a person with no knowledge of the event, you have done a good job
- Offer an incentive to delegates to complete the survey
Keep questions simple and clear. Make it easy for delegates to complete the survey.
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