Have you ever attended a conference and received a lengthy survey via email about a week later? Be honest: How many times do you fill it out? My guess, if you are anything like me, that conference is a distant memory and most likely you will delete the email.
Even if you capture questions onsite via a paper survey system, chances are you are asking some questions that are not that important in the scheme of the total conference (such as "How was the meeting room?" or "How was the food?"). Paper survey systems are often shoved in a box to be sorted and tallied at some later date — up to two weeks after the event. Any impact they may have had on the conference is long gone because by the time you reply to the attendee, they will have forgotten what their question or comment was.
So what is the answer?
First, capturing real-time data is a huge step in the right direction. This can be completed through wireless audience response systems. Second, asking the right questions of attendees is key to bettering your content at the current conference as well as at future events.
Gallus Events, a consulting firm out of the UK, has come up with the following content-related questions that they believe should be asked of every attendee. These answers can be easily tallied via Audience Response System rental units.
- Did you enjoy the conference?
- Was it fun?
- Did you meet interesting people?
- Will you tell others about the meeting?
- When we send you the invitation to next year's conference, are you willing to forward the URL to others?
- Did you learn things that will affect the way you will do your job?
- What can we do to make the content we covered more digestible? (You would list several multiple-choice options.)
- How many exhibitors did you meet with at the conference?
- How many sponsors did you talk with?
- Did you use the Twitter hashtag to keep current on the conference happenings?
- Will you continue to check the hashtag several weeks from now?
- Did you or will you join our LinkedIn group?
Even though many of these questions are answered with a simple "Yes" or "No", they can give your event meeting services organization a sense of what attendees think about the overall scope of the conference. Take a hard look at the first two questions. If they did not enjoy the conference and they did not have fun, these are major red flags for you that your conference is boring, stale, or possibly uninformative.