The thought of carrying out evaluation for any type of event can be uninspiring. After all there are many more glamorous tasks for planners to be working on. However, the data derived from evaluation provides invaluable insights.
These insights can feed directly into your strategic decision making and help improve your next event. In fact, if data is not used to inform your decision making you are using guesswork. Evaluation should be integral to everything you do as an event planner. It really does need to become part of your DNA, if it isn’t already.
Go Beyond Great Comments
Your hybrid event went really well. In fact it went brilliantly and everyone kept telling you how delighted they were. They said it was great, it was a superb experience and it was unforgettable. You were delighted as it was obvious from all this feedback that selling tickets and sponsorship for your next event should be simple.
But is it really that simple? Was the truth a little different? From the virtual attendance of 1000 delegates and 100 in –person delegates how many stated that they learned something new? How many would return again for the next edition? And when it comes to sponsors, how pleased with the enquiries were they? It can be easy to be swept along with all the applause and comments, but are you going deep enough?
Why Evaluation Matters
Evaluation that goes beyond anecdotal comments provides hard evidence that you can learn from. It is invaluable for attracting new delegates. It provides sponsors with all the information they need to make a decision on whether to part with their money. It provides facts and figures that can be used for your next marketing campaign. It provides a lot more besides.
Hybrid event evaluation should not be missed from your priority list of ‘must haves’. Would you really want to have spent time, money and resources on your event only to realise that you didn’t know how well it had been received?
What Do You Want to Discover?
It all starts with asking the right questions. But, what are the question you should ask? Well for every event planner they will be slightly different. It all comes down to what you want to understand? Do you want to focus on the learning, networking or social side of the event? You should allow time to really think through what you need and not just follow what’s been done before. And what was done before is likely to have been changed anyway due to the impact of Covid-19.
Customise the Questions for Your Audiences
Because you have two audiences to evaluate, those that attended in-person and those that did so virtually, you have to be sure that the questions are relevant to the audience. Just as you need to design two programmes, it is the same with survey questions. You need to ensure that the surveys are designed with that in mind.
If you ask poor questions you will receive poor results. If you ask too many questions you will receive few responses. Being overly optimistic on how long your survey will take to complete will result in people getting half way and then stopping. Make sure that you are confident and realistic in how long it will take for someone to complete the survey. Run some tests to enable you to check whether it really is a 10 minute survey or a 25 minute one.
What Were Your Event Objectives?
The issue of questions to ask and how many is a vital one. And this should be linked to finding out if you achieved your hybrid event objectives. When you set your objectives you needed to ensure that you put in place appropriate data capture methods and technology, otherwise you will never truly know if you hit your objectives. And that means making sure that you can capture the data from both the in-person and virtual delegates. You will need tech that allows you do that easily, otherwise you will be doubling your work. For example, there would be little point in using a voting system that only works for an-in person audience.
What is the Data Telling You?
Did the virtual delegates find the programme to be too long or too short? Did the exercises work for them? Did the in-person delegates find the programme was different because of the virtual attendees?
What Can You Improve for the Next Time?
With two sets of delegates, a number of sponsors and exhibitors to draw insights from, you will be on the way to discovering new ways to make them all even happier next time. It really is time to make evaluation of your hybrid events part of your DNA.
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