Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.
Why do you collect event evaluations? Hopefully it’s because you have a solid plan for the use of the information.
Questions should advance the mission of the event or association
Before writing questions, clearly identify what you want to learn.
Ask how new-gained knowledge will be used for personal, company, association, and/or industry improvement.
Include the question, “Would you recommend this to a friend or colleague?” This identifies your net promoter score*, a figure for measuring success.
Design questions so answers are easy to analyze
Know how you will use the data. Let that determine the format of your questions.
If you ask for a written response, consider the value of customized responses and whether you will be able to record and analyze them.
If not, determine how you can obtain equally valuable information in another format, such as multiple choice, with an option to write in a one-line answer.
For ease of sorting from an electronic form, create a separate field for each piece of information, e.g. city, state, ZIP. You may not plan to sort by ZIP, but when you need to, you’ll be glad you don’t have to separate it from the city and state.
Don’t ask the question if you won’t use the answers
Don’t ask about the venue, the food, the schedule, or even then speakers if you won’t use the information for future planning.
Instead, rely on first-person appraisals from leadership, your staff, and your own observations.
If you’re required to distribute evaluations to fulfill CE requirements, use the opportunity to gather more than the basics.
ONE AWESOME IDEA
Use Big (or Small) Data
You’ll hear the term Big Data buzzing around. It describes very large sets of data that are analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, connections, etc. in human behavior.
Small Data (my term) can be also be used to determine human behavior. Maintaining an event history is one of the easiest ways to do this. Track numbers for every aspect of your event, from abstract submissions to session attendance; from orange juice consumption to meal no-shows.
Refer to your history when your boss worries about low registrations (we’re 3% higher than last year); you want to prove that scheduling sessions at 4:00p on the last day is a bad idea (only 14% of all registrants were in sessions at that time last year); or whether Early Bird rates incentive registrations (40% of total registrations were received in the hours before rates increased last year).
*Net Promoter Score: The Net Promoter Score: How to Use It For eLearning Evaluation and Improvement by Adam Gavarkovs for eLearning Industry.
Evaluation Form Writing: The Trouble With Evals by Michelle Russell for PCMA Convene
Big Data: How Big Data Makes Meetings Smarter by Michelle Davis for PCMA Convene
How Can Data Analytics Transform Meetings? by Ken Budd for PCMA Convene
How the Exhibitions Industry Is Using Big Data by Regina McGee for PCMA Convene
Information disclaimer: WANT MORE? references do not imply an endorsement for any company, product, or service.
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her