Since every meeting is different, the following is a guideline of possible things meeting planners can include when creating a post-conference survey.
Planning the Survey
• Make it a priority. The survey is one of the most critical tools for measuring the success of your meeting/event. Start early, to avoid rushing through it. Give yourself ample time to consider key questions.
• Use last year’s as a guide. Did you get the right information or were the answers vague? Do your questions need to be re-phrased?
• Think beyond. Can your survey also be used for another purpose, such as an employee survey or research project?
• Don’t ask any questions if you will not use the answers. For example, if you are not going to change the venue, then there is no sense asking for attendees to rate it.
• Know your audience. What is their tolerance for survey length? Typically, internal audiences will complete longer surveys than public/external audiences.
• A survey should benefit both you AND your delegates, so consider making your findings available to them. Sharing this information adds value and helps delegates justify spending their time and money. For example, everyone who completes the survey gets a summary of the results.
• Don’t be afraid to bribe them a bit. Sometimes, a small token can be a great driver to completion (think gift cards, reward points or even vacation days – a great option for internal meetings).
• Anonymity should be considered. Will you receive a higher or more honest response if delegates remain nameless? If dossiers are important, create an “About You” section with additional information, such as seniority, regional offices or job categories.
• Use closed and open-ended questions. Give delegates an opportunity to speak. Open questions can generate powerful ideas, but can also be much harder to tally. Use them, but sparingly!
• Don’t just ask what they want to see next. This question is invaluable, but often left for the end of surveys, when respondents are ready to finish. Rather, make this a multiple-choice question, with space for comments.
• Include your sponsors or key stakeholders. Include questions that will demonstrate your sponsors’ ROI and/or engagement at your event.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions that directly measure the event’s goal(s). For example, if the goal was sales training, don’t be afraid to ask if the attendee learned anything. A ‘no’ can be more constructive than a ‘yes.’
Haven’t experienced the instant feedback of social networking yet? Get prepared! Today’s delegates instantly review content, venues and services and share them via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Monitor these sites, especially if you’ve used them to market your event. These real-time comments can dramatically impact your event and your sponsors and can even affect attendance.
Tips for online surveys
• Limit the number of characters for text boxes. It forces people to be concise.
• Tell them how long it will take and be honest about it. There is nothing worse than starting a survey, only to realize it takes 30 minutes to complete.
• If there’s instant polling, provide a link to the results at the end.
• Timing is everything. Get feedback within 48 hours of the event. You will get a much higher answer-rate.
• Have your online post-survey programmed and ready to go before your event starts.
• Consider doing an online pre-event survey. You can ask for feedback on developing the content or if you ask similar questions to the post-survey, you can measure how much your event moved the needle.