After any event, it is important to conduct a debriefing process. An event debrief is part of an analysis of the feedback about the event. The word “debrief” means to ask questions about the event. Those who helped create the event and those who attended it are asked questions about their experiences.

Good Reasons to Conduct an Event Debrief

It’s important to ask key questions and review important event data if you want adequate feedback. When next year’s event takes a leap forward in terms of attendance, engagement and other event KPIs, you’ll have your production event debrief to thank.

The debrief is when you gather all the minds that made this event go ’round to recap problems and successes.

If you skimp this part, problems tend to repeat themselves next year and successes tend to become more variant.

How Do You Conduct an Event Debrief?

First of all, you’ll want to discuss the key topics with all the major players form your event team. This discussion identifies what was done well and what was not. Above all, it should uncover opportunities to make improvements.

After you have solid footing among your internal team, discuss your findings with the client side to get their opinions. These two groups of stakeholders make up the “behind-the-scenes” viewpoint.

It’s also important to seek feedback from those who attended the event to understand their experiences. These opinions of attendees make up the “front” viewpoint.

Therefore, there are two perspectives on every event, which are necessary for a proper debriefing. These are the behind-the-scenes viewpoint and the front viewpoint.

The Behind-The-Scenes Viewpoint

This is how well the event was planned and if the plan was executed effectively. Completing this analysis will further your team’s understanding of the event and how it all came together.

Meeting with Team Members

Meet with the event production team. Remind everyone of the objectives for the event that were part of the event planning. These should have been clearly stated and known before the event happened. Provide the team members with objective statistics that were captured during the event, such as the number of attendees, meals served, and so forth.

The goal is to share key insights about what was learned from the experiences related to the event. Have an open, non-judgmental conversation. Ask the team members to focus their comments mostly on their own efforts and experiences, not solely on negative criticisms of others.

Questions to Ask Individual Production Team Members

  • Did we meet the objectives of the event?
  • What problems did you encounter?
  • Did the problems get solved?
  • Was your role clearly defined?
  • Did you have the things needed to do your job properly?
  • What was successful at the event?
  • Who and/or what created the success?
  • How do we repeat this success in the future?

Meeting with the Representatives of the Client

Meet with the representatives from the client’s side after meeting with the production team members. There will be plenty of information gathered from the production team. However, this portion of the debriefing adds to that data. It’s very important to understand the behind-the-scenes viewpoint from the client’s perspective.

Questions to Ask the Client’s Representatives

  • Did we meet the objectives of the event?
  • What problems did you encounter?
  • Were the problems solved?
  • What was successful at the event?
  • Who and/or what created the success?
  • How do we repeat this success in the future?

The answers to the questions by both the production team members and the representatives of the client are helpful for planning the logistics for the next round of events, such as next year’s corporate events, conferences, or conventions.

The Front Viewpoint

This is the perspective from attendees who came to the event and those who participated such as guest speakers but who were not involved in any of the planning or the event operations.

When working through this part of the debriefing, you’re trying to identify if the event lived up to (or exceeded) attendee expectations. Seek honest feedback about what problems were experienced by attendees so that the process can be improved.

You don’t need to wait until the event is over to collect this data. Instead, simply utilize a few of the following steps to gather real-time insights.

Surveys

You can use surveys to get feedback from attendees,  but you need to utilize them in clever ways. People need a reward for answering your questions. If not, they’ll likely consider it a waste of their time.

Dissatisfied attendees have more incentive to answer a survey than satisfied ones, so take most responses with a grain of salt.

Feedback on Social Media

Social media feedback is both instantaneous and easy to capture. Have your social team ask questions about things that just happened at an event (using your conference’s hashtag) and you’ll receive plenty of responses.

Your team can document these social media comments & bookmark them as authentic, real-time feedback.

This works the best if there is an event application that all participants use, which interfaces with social media.

Focus Groups

In addition to asking your attendees via social, invite a few lucky winners to join a focus group. You’ll need to carefully chose the individuals for this to ensure it is representative of the event’s demographics.

Timing is important here. Shoot to hold this focus group meeting as quickly after the event as you can. You’re better off getting the intel without delay while their memories are fresh.

Questions to Ask the Attendees

  • How was the registration process?
  • Did you have any problems at the event?
  • Was it difficult to find things at the event?
  • Was the technology at the event easy to use?
  • What would you suggest for a similar event in the future?

Summary

Conducting a thorough debriefing right after an event is a critical step for improving an ongoing process. In fact, it forms the basis for innovation in the planning of the next event. Some event planners formalize this process by generating a written report of the debriefing. This is good for client relations and to help the production team improve.

A debriefing also creates a chance to recognize things and individuals that were a significant part of creating an event’s success. Rewarding such excellence by individuals and noting such good results helps repeat those successes in the future. Consult with us about your next corporate event.

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