Like all other times, another blog with a seemingly bizarre title. And, like all other times, it only SEEMS bizarre.
Organizing and hosting an event are definitely big, BIG tasks. Often, these tire out presenters so much that once the event is done, they don’t care to look back and analyze anything; instead, they move on to the next event, looking for a change. This, I believe, is one of the biggest mistakes that event organizers commit.
Unless you evaluate your event, your success, your downfalls, you won’t be able to figure out the kind of mistakes you’ve committed, and what changes you should bring about in order to evade those mistakes in your next event. Hence, we have compiled a guide to the evaluation process for your event so that the next time you’re through with the event, analyzing it doesn’t seem like a big, BIG task.
Before we start…
There are a couple of things you need to have with you in order to start off with the evaluation process, and these include:
- Attendee Feedback
This can be obtained through various means, and it is an absolute necessity if you want to know if your event goals have been reflected in your audience’s perspectives. You can ask them to fill out online forms in exchange for some incentives, or you can hand out hard copies during the event and collect them as they leave. If you have enough time on your hand, you could also create a focus group and have a meeting.
- The Raw Data
Meaning, the initial information that you obtained before the event started. For example, if you asked a few questions to the ones who registered (why are you attending, where did you hear about the event), you could define the attributes of your target audience. At the same time, you could tally their answers with the responses you get from the event feedback and see if you’ve lived up to expectations.
- Some Dedicated Time
Within 1-2 weeks of your event, schedule some time that your team can dedicate only for the evaluation of your event. Don’t make it longer than that, because with fading memories, you might lose important insights. At the same time, don’t keep it on the next day of your event because everybody needs time to settle, let things sink in, and do personal analyses.
I. THE BEGINNING
When you start working during the “dedicated time”, the first step is to analyze the basic questions, or the key questions that sum up the entire evaluation process. These questions are:
What went well?
It is only human to have the desire to jump on the improvement section first, but if you have to keep the meeting going and your team motivated, you need to start with your successes. Celebrate your accomplishments and make sure every team member, by the end of this session, has at least one thing to be proud of. Discussing this only gives you a reason to continue practicing the activities that were successful, and maybe make them even better for better results.
What can be improved?
Do. Not. Accuse. People.
Just don’t. Because, nobody is perfect, and if you pinpoint people for their mistakes, it will only demoralize them. Plus, it makes much more sense to discuss improvements in things and processes. Ask every team member to contribute at least one idea that could’ve made the event better (and can make the next one the best one) and appreciate the team’s efforts to learn and grow.
How can the ROI be increased?
ROI (Return on Investment) revolves around efficiency, of appropriately utilizing time and resources. A lot of things work in the favor of the event, but that need not imply that they were just as feasible. They might have taken up a lot of time and efforts to actually give required results. On the other hand, there may be tasks, activities, and practices that may have just consumed 20% of your total time, money, efforts, and resources, and given just as amazing results. You need to look into these, and avoid repeating or continuing the ones that are favorable as a whole, but not really efficient.
II.BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN STRATEGY AND EXECUTION
Did this event reflect your vision?
First, remind everyone about the mission and vision of your organization. Next, ask them these questions:
- What part of the event reflected the company’s vision in its entire entirety and how?
- What part, on the other hand, was distant from the company’s vision and why?
- As a whole, was this event an embodiment of the company’s ideals?
Did this event go hand-in-hand with the needs of your customers?
Because if it didn’t, honestly, you practically wasted a lot of time right there. That sure sounds scary, so here’s how you evaluate this portion:
- Who were your target audience, the people for whom you put on the event?
- Did the list of attendees comprise of these people?
- If it didn’t, why? What were the reasons for them to not attend your event?
- And those who did attend, what were their goals behind it?
- Did your event meet their goals? Were they content?
- From attendee feedback, what was the one change almost everyone suggested?
- Also, what aspect was the most loved one?
- Would they like to attend your event again?
Every time you define your target audience, you need to have framed the persona (the attributes) of your ideal customer. Cross-check if your attendees meet the same attributes as that of an ideal customer. If no, then your demographics have been altered and you need to update the persona.
III. EVOLUTION OF A NEW STRATEGY
Now that you’ve successfully evaluated your previous event, you have to let the results of the same reflect in your strategy for the next event. For that, we’ll have four main aspects we’ll be looking into:
The Target Audience
Your strategy should revolve around your customer. Quite a lot of time, you base it on your customer demographics, while in reality, basing it on their needs can actually prove to be a lot more fruitful. Consider the following points-
- What are their primary concerns and opportunities?
- What is it about your event that they can’t find elsewhere?
- How does it answer their concerns and offer them the opportunities they need?
- What would be the repercussions if your event didn’t do the above?
Think about this – picture your attendee describing your event to a friend. Make your event something that would match that description. Once you’ve figured that out, you’re halfway down the road to a successful event strategy.
Of course, your customer’s needs are important, but not at the cost of the needs of your own company. You need to set a primary goal for the company that the event is supposed to fulfill, and 2-3 supporting ones. They can range from marketing to revenue generation, but you have to set them down clearly and not deviate from them while strategizing.
Measuring Your Needs
Once you figure out the needs of your customers as well as your company’s goals, you’ll have to figure out ways to measure them and track them. For example, if your company wants to generate revenue, costing should be your priority. On the other hand, if you’re looking at growth, you might want to consider the amount of sales and sideline the costing.
The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis is a classic that NEVER fails. This is how you can use it while creating your strategy:
- STRENGTHS: You could be the proud owner of the most brilliant sales department, or an amazing marketing team, and these pose as the strengths that make you different from your competitors.
- WEAKNESSES: Are you not able to retain your attendees? Are you running low on staff? These are internal issues that are inhibiting growth, and need to be rectified.
- OPPORTUNITIES: Identifying and rectifying your weaknesses definitely comes under opportunities, but there are other aspects like new technology warding off old competitors but giving birth to new ones, the availability of a new kind of location, and so on.
- THREATS: While weaknesses are within the company, threats are usually external factors that may disrupt your event. Global economic downturn, launch of a similar event, all come under this roof.
IV. EXTRACT GOALS FROM YOUR STRATEGY
Now that you know the needs and requirements, you need to aspire to meet them. Hence, list out some goals for your team.
The Bold Ones
Nope, not just the highlighted ones; I mean the goals that are audacious and strong in their spirits. You need to have one or two of these in order to keep your staff motivated. These include, doubling up the size of your event as compared to the previous year, inviting an influential celebrity, getting mainstream media to cover your event, etcetera. More of these may work negatively for you, as you may be exhausting your resources and asking for way too much.
The SMART Ones
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound – that’s what SMART stands for. Of course, having big goals is important, but they should be SMART in order to make sure you’re not putting your team up only to fall down and hit their heads. Your strong goals could be broken down into smaller, smarter goals that the team finds easier to tackle.
Set up milestones and break down your goals according to a time frame to keep track of your progress. If there’s no progress, adopting this method will let you know when there should be a course correction.
V.THE FINAL PLAN
Once you’re done analyzing, strategizing, chalking out your goals, you need to have the final plan ready, which is basically the last step in the process before you actually start with the execution. For this, you need to consider three following factors:
The skillsets of your staff, whether you need more staff, or the existing staff needs more training, whether a new technology can be used, or content management system needs to be updated – these are all resources that are going to help you put your ideas into execution. Make sure you answer these questions before you start off.
Tactics for Growth
What are the ideas or tactics that people are suggesting that can bring about growth? These can include outsourcing, trying out a new technology, building a new website, a cool new campaign idea, and other related inputs. Sit together with your team, brainstorm, and list out these ideas to implement in the next event.
Remember noting down your successes and mistakes in this event? Go through them and figure out if there are certain activities or processes that are responsible for whatever has gone awry, and modify them. Think about other workflows that can replace these and guarantee betterment.
After almost two thousand words of strategy and planning and improving, it’s only fair if you’ve forgotten exactly why you were reading this. So, in conclusion, I’ll remind you why evaluation is necessary for your event. And for the same, I’ll quote James A Belasco – “Evaluate what you want–because what gets measured, gets produced.”