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How to Successfully Debrief Your Event

An event planner’s work is never done – not even when the event itself is over. Just as important as getting all the details right before your event, there is something you can do after your event to get valuable feedback, streamline your process, enhance your attendee experience, and further cement relationships with your team and partners.

What is this magical task that event planners can undertake to reap the aforementioned benefits? Nothing more than a simple event debrief.

Enter the event debrief

Debriefing an event simply means asking a series of targeted questions about the event itself.

Honest and accurate feedback allows for you as the planner to make better business decisions about each event you put together.

How Do You Debrief?

The success of your debrief relies entirely on your understanding of who exactly you are questioning, and what you hope the answers will lead you to. There are actually two different kinds of event debriefs: The back end debrief and the front end debrief.

What Questions Should You ask?

The Back End Debrief– The primary focus of a back end debrief is to iron out how well the event was planned and executed. In order to discern this, consider asking your team, sponsors, and vendors some of the following questions:

  1. What were our original event objectives?
  2. Did we meet them?
  3. Were there any problems encountered as we tried to meet our event objectives? (think registration or tech issues, budgetary constraints, revenue goals, marketing performance, food & beverage issues, and general attendee engagement) If so, what were they?
  4. Did those problems get solved? How? Was the provided solution effective?
  5. Was your individual role in the event production process clear to you from the outset?
  6. Did you find that the information you needed to do your job was readily available to you?
  7. What were some triumphs at our event? Who or what was responsible for them? How can we replicate that success in the future?
  8. How effective and efficient was our registration process?
  9. How did we utilize technology at this event? Was the tech we used easy to implement and analyze?
  10. What would you like to see happen at similar events in the future?

The Front End Debrief – This is entirely about attendee experience and engagement. Basically, you want to know if your attendees had fun or walked away with something valuable, how they received your event messaging, and how you can make their experience better in the future. In today’s hyper digital world, there are many innovative ways to tackle your front end debrief. The traditional feedback form, is extremely outdated. And though the information you’re trying to obtain is the same, technology has made getting it much easier (and sexier) than filling out a mail-in questionnaire. Feedback from your attendees can be gotten:

Through Social Media – You’d be surprised how many responses you will get by simply asking your pointed debrief questions on social media after an event. Consider posting a facebook status, or throwing some of the questions into a dedicated twitter chat after your event. Through Email – Similar to social media, you can (and should) reach out to your attendees via email to find out how they felt about your event. Polls – Attendees will have the most to say, and be the most likely to give you feedback, immediately after they’ve interacted with your event. This is why on the spot polling is a great way to have your front end debrief. There is no end to the information you can get from an on the spot poll. You could poll your audience after each speaker or presenter. You could have them rate their food and the service immediately after a meal. You could ask about the music, the entertainment, and the flow and decor of your space. The possibilities are endless.

In Conclusion

Debriefing your event is a crucial step in gathering the feedback necessary to keep your events innovative and efficient. Conducting both a back end and a front end debrief will ensure that you know exactly how everyone involved feels about the event you produced. You will also have a working knowledge of what worked, what didn’t, and how you can build on that information to keep yourself, your clients, your partners and your attendees happy and coming back for more.