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Lynn Cunningham

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OMR Form Design...Let's Get Graphic!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jan 3, 2014 12:59:00 PM

Custom Scan Form Design

Go for the Sharpest Image on Your Survey Form

One of the best ways to give your survey form a polished, professional look is by adding a logo or other graphic image. When adding a logo or graphic, it is very important to use the right kind and quality of image. A fuzzy, low resolution image will produce the opposite result, giving your form an unprofessional look and feel.  

Join the Resolution Revolution!

The quality of graphic images depends on the image resolution, or the number of dots per inch (dpi). The more "dots" the better the image quality, so it is important to start with an image with more dots per inch. Resizing or scaling your graphic image will likely degrade the quality appearance of your logo or graphic.  

Survey Form Printing      Scan Form Design      OMR Form Printing

As you can see from the examples above, these images get fuzzier as they are enlarged. You can always zoom in on the image on your computer screen to get a better idea of the quality of your image. (An easy way to do this is to hold the Control Key down on your keyboard and hit the "+" key several times. To zoom out, hold down the Control Key and hit the "-"symbol.) If an image looks fuzzy when you zoom in, chances are it will look fuzzy when inserted onto a printed form.

OMR Form Printing–What Graphics Format Works?

If you are creating your own OMR survey form using a software such as Data Blocks Magenta or Scantron's DesignExpert™, you can add images or logos to your design as long as the image is in a bitmap image format. In the printing industry, there are two basic types of graphic images. The first type is a bitmap, also known as a "raster" image. A bitmap could be one of many file types (.bmp, .jpeg, .gif, etc.) Bitmap images are:

  • Made up of pixels in a grid. Tiny dots of color come together to form the image. When you zoom in on a bitmap image, you can see the dots as squares of color hooked together.

  • Always square or rectangular. If your logo is an oval shape, it will be an oval within a rectangular frame when it is in bitmap image format.

  • A solid block of color (or white). No part of a bitmap image is transparent or see through. For printing purposes, a bitmap cannot be color separated. This means it must be printed in one color (i.e., all black, all red) or converted to grayscale. 

The other format of graphic image used in the print industry is a vector image. A vector image is made up of individual shapes and/or text. Each shape in a vector image can be edited independently. A vector format image will usually have an .eps file extension. Vector images are:

  • Made up of individual elements, such as shapes, lines and text. Each element can be edited by without affecting other elements.

  • Can be any shape or size and is not resolution dependent. This format of graphic is always very sharp looking and is not confined to a rectangular shape.

  • Most important from a printer's perspective, a vector or .eps image can be color separated for printing. Elements can be assigned exact and multiple colors.

  • Vector images can be converted to bitmap format for use on web surveys or for use in form design software.

Click here to see examples of a graphic in different formats.


Getting Graphic–Summing it Up

In my opinion, a bad or fuzzy graphic image should never appear on your form! Only add images that are high quality and that enhance the appearance and effectiveness of the document. Most OMR form design software has severe limitations when it comes to adding good quality graphics to the forms you design. Always use the highest resolution graphic image you can get your hands on. For even better results, have your OMR form printing company help. A printing professional can use graphics software to really make your survey form sing! 

OMR Form Design, Form Printing, Scantron Forms

Topics: scan form design, customized survey form, OMR printing, form design software

Is your Conference Evaluation Form Yielding Meaningful Results?

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Nov 19, 2013 11:57:00 AM

What Are You Asking For?

Is your conference evaluation giving you actionable data that helps you plan your next meeting, or is it just giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling and a nice "pat on the back."

What can you do to ensure that your evaluation form captures meaningful information from your attendees? It could depend not only on what you ask, but also on how it is asked! 

Often, the most constructive and helpful information gathered from event evaluations are the negative responses. 

Isn't that what surveys are about? Letting other people provide input into the process rather than just validating the planning decisions of your committee?

5 Ways to Get Meaningful Feedback

Ask the right questions - focused questions will target key areas of your meeting and return more meaningful responses. Stick to the things you need to know, as opposed to those things that you want to know.

Ask questions in the right way - avoid leading questions that point respondents to the answer you "want" to receive. Make sure each item has an appropriate response scale that is applicable to what is being asked.

Timing - conduct session evaluations while details of the speaker and session are fresh in mind of attendees. Ideally, allow a short period at the end of each session for attendees to evaluate the success of the presenter in communicating his or her content. Overall evaluations that rate registration, location, amenities, etc. should be done as close to the end of the conference as possible.

Use the results - if you don't act on suggestions and comments, they are not meaningful! By acting on the results of your conference and speaker evaluations, you will encourage feedback at future meetings and improve the success of your conference.

Share evaluation results - with speakers, stakeholders, and meeting planners. A report showing feedback results for specific speakers that is shared with those speakers can help them see how they measure up against other presenters at the same conference. Overall meeting evaluation results shared with attendees demonstrate that you value their opinions and input.


Conference Evaluation Sample, Scantron Forms



Exploring Other Avenues

Surveys are a great feedback mechanism, but social media can also be a powerful tool for gathering feedback from your conference attendees. Post questions on Facebook or Twitter and spark more discussions, both internally and externally. Use QR codes posted around your meeting venue to direct attendees to your meeting's Facebook page or website. Use impromptu video-recorded interviews with attendees to measure various aspects of the overall conference experience or to share as testimonials on social media sights.

Plan of Attack

Planning the evaluation process well in advance of your conference or meeting is important if you are trying to gain meaningful insight into the effectiveness of your event and presenters. 

Meet with your planning group specifically to discuss the evaluation process. What do you need to know in order to accurately measure the effectiveness of your conference logistics? Was the registration process functional? Was the conference site adequate? Did the program meet the conference objectives? What information do you need to gather to measure the effectiveness of your speakers?

Review results from past conference evaluations. What changes can you make in light of the information from your last survey or evaluation? 

When your conference evaluation results become a playbook for arranging your next event, then you have attained meaningful, actionable results!



Download Our Conference Evaluation Planning  Guide and Start to Measure Your Success!



Topics: scantron form, session evaluation, conference evaluation

Avoid Survey Fatigue!–Best Results from Conference Evaluations

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Oct 16, 2013 2:32:00 PM

Are Your Respondents Exhausted from Survey Fatigue?

YES! Every day we are inundated with requests for feedback. As customers, as shoppers, as students, as employees, our opinions are sought after, begged for, over and over everyday when we leave the house or browse online.

As a meeting or event organizer/administrator, it is important to make your session evaluation tool stand out from the background noise of continual requests for feedback that are thrown at us. Like you, the folks attending your meeting are probably tired from survey inundation. There are a few best practices that can help you improve your response rates and get good, honest feedback from your survey-weary meeting participants. 


Communication is Crucial

The best way to improve the engagement of your respondents is to communicate at every step of the process. 

  • Why are they being asked to complete a session or speaker evaluation?

  • When do you expect them to fill out the rating form?

  • Who is going to have access to the results, and will confidential information be secure?

  • What will be done with the results? How will the information be used to improve future meetings?

  • Where can results be viewed? Will tabulated results and comments be accessible to attendees?

The more information you can share regarding your intentions and what you need from them, the better your chance of getting honest, engaged responses.


Make Your Conference Surveys Simple, Relevant and Accessible

Simplicity is key in getting good response rates and heart-felt feedback from your attendees. The fewer questions on your evaluation tool, the better. One organization that we worked with had only one item per speaker on their session evaluation.

Session Evaluation Rating Scale

How simple is that? The "five-star" rating systems has worked great for organizations such as or YELP. These folks took keeping it simple to heart! You may need more than one item to gather the feedback you need from your respondents, but simplicity is key. Hand your attendees a two page, densely packed speaker evaluation form and watch their eyes glaze over and their brains shut down. 

Another key factor in the success of your session or speaker evaluations is accessibility. Are you using a paper form and allowing time at the end of sessions for completing it? Are you using a web survey or conference app to gather feedback? Give your attendees more options, and you will gather more quality responses! It is important NOT to assume that everyone has a mobile device or that everyone will take the time during the session to complete an evaluation form on paper. The more access you can provide to your evaluation tool, the better. Using a paper form that has a QR code for quick access to the same evaluation online is a great way to give your attendees options.

Conclusion–Apply the K-I-S-S Principle!

When creating content and designing a session evaluation or speaker evaluation for your next meeting or conference remember your respondent. You want to gather as much actionable data as possible, and your respondent group is weary from the day in, day out requests for feedback that we all encounter. For best results, communicate thoroughly and "keep it simple stupid!" 


Session Evaluation with QR Code, Scantron Forms


Topics: session evaluation, Customer Satisfaction, speaker evaluation form

Overall Conference Evaluations–A Blueprint to Plan Your Next Event!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jul 26, 2013 1:01:00 PM

The overall conference evaluation is a special tool that enables you to hear the voice of your consumer, and gives you an opportunity to plan your next event to best meet their needs and expectations.

Are You Listening?

An overall conference evaluation is the perfect tool to measure the satisfaction of your attendees and get their feedback as to how the meeting might be improved in coming years. If you are not taking advantage of this opportunity, you may want to reconsider. Feedback from participants is the best resource for planning future events and meetings. A well thought out overall evaluation will uncover a treasure trove of ideas, suggestions and constructive criticism (That's right, not everyone will love every part of your conference!) covering all angles of your meeting.

Conference Evaluation Sample, Scantron Forms

Evaluation Categories

Most overall conference evaluations are broken up into several categories regarding different aspects of your meeting or conference. This keeps the evaluation interesting, and breaks it up into smaller, less daunting sections. As with session evaluations, close-ended questions with a likert rating scale will return consistent, actionable data for determining what worked and what did not work. Some often used categories are:

  • Overall - questions regarding expectations, value, plans to attend next year, location, etc.

  • Conference Services - registration, meals, accommodations, meeting room comfort, helpfulness of staff, etc.

  • Content & Delivery - mix of session topics, relevance of topics, overall quality of speakers and keynotes, etc.

  • Decision to Attend - what marketing or communication influenced your decision to attend (very helpful in targeting marketing for next year).

  • Demographic Information - type of organization, role, ethnicity, gender, years experience, etc.

  • Future Meeting/Conference Preferences - suggestions for locations, speakers, and topics for future meetings. 

Open-Ended Questions

Most overall conference evaluations will have several open-ended items as well as a section for the attendee to give any additional comments they may have regarding the meeting. It is important to have a place where attendees can share their ideas and experiences in their own words. These comments, or responses to questions such as "what did you like most about this event?" or "what did you like least about this event?" will really highlight the areas that need improvement as well as the areas that are working well. Listening to your consumer and making changes based on their's a good thing!

What to do With All This Useful Data?

Plan to share and communicate the tabulated results and comments from your overall evaluation with key stakeholders, including program staff, speakers/presenters, and even participants. By sharing the ratings and sentiments with participants, you show that their voice is important and encourage response on future evaluations. This great data you have collected will help make your next meeting or conference even better!

For a more in-depth look at the conference evaluation process, plus several actual evaluation form samples, download our free Conference Evaluation Planning Guide. This helpful guidebook will get you started creating a unique, useful data collection tool for your next meeting, workshop or conference.

Download Our Conference Evaluation Planning  Guide and Start to Measure Your Success!



Topics: scantron form, Survey Systems, speaker evaluation form, conference evaluation

Conference Session Evaluations–Getting More With Less

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jul 12, 2013 2:58:00 PM


Session Evaluations–Less Nets More

The easier you make it for attendees to evaluate your session or meeting, the better and more meaningful the responses you will receive. Trying to obtain too much information will most likely decrease the response rate and the "engagement level" for your evaluation. The best, most effective conference or session evaluation will have less than ten questions in a format that allows attendees to rate the session before leaving the meeting room. Try to limit your data collection to information you are sure will be useful.

Session Evaluation with QR Code, Scantron Forms

What Do You Really Want to Find Out from the Audience?

There are five basic types of information that session evaluations are usually used to collect. Using these categories as guidelines, what would you really like to find out?

• How effective/knowledgeable was the presenter?

• How useful/beneficial was the content presented?

• What is your personal reaction to the session (were you satisfied with it)?

• Were the objectives met?

• Demographic information about the attendees.

One well-worded question from each of the first four categories is all that is needed to make an useful, easy to complete session evaluation. If your organization also utilizes an overall meeting/conference evaluation, the demographic questions can be saved for that questionnaire. 

What Question Format Works Best?

The simplest and best question format for session evaluation forms is the close-ended question. A multiple choice, likert scale rating, or simple yes/no question format is better than open-ended questions on this type of survey form. Open-ended questions provide a flexible way for folks to offer up their thoughts and ideas, but they are also time consuming, both for the respondent and for the people processing the completed forms. Open-ended questions also result in a lot of unnecessary and sometimes irrelevant information being collected. A good multiple choice or rating scale question is quick and easy to respond to and doesn't require a great amount of thought. An open-ended comment section added to the end of an evaluation form will usually be utilized by less than 50% of those responding.

Getting the Greatest Number of Responses

The best time to administer the session evaluation is near the end of the session itself, while you have a captive audience. Allowing a short period of time at the end of each session for completing questionnaires should result in your session evaluation having a great response rate because:

• The form is short and sweet! There are only five or six items.

• The questions are well thought out, close-ended, interesting and easy to answer quickly.

• You have convieniently provided time at the end of the session for responding.

• The details of the session are fresh in the respondents mind.

• You have provided a box or envelope to put the evaluation forms in, so there is a degree confidentiality.

What To Do With All This Useful Data?

Plan to share and communicate the tabulated results from your session evaluation with key stakeholders, including program staff, speakers/presenters, and even participants. Using these results, you can easily see who the best, most effective, most popular speakers are. You will be able to determine which topics were a hit and which topics you may not want to repeat. This great data you have collected will help make your next meeting or conference even better!

For a more in-depth look at the session evaluation process, plus several actual session evaluation form samples, download our free Conference Session Evaluation Planning Guide. This helpful guidebook will get you started creating a unique, useful data collection tool for your next meeting, workshop or conference.

Download Conference Session  Evaluation Guide with Samples!



Topics: scantron form, session evaluation, speaker evaluation form, sample evaluation form

The Benefits and the Dark Side of School Climate Surveys

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jun 20, 2013 3:53:00 PM

 school climate surveys, scantron forms, survey systems

What is a School Climate Survey?

A school climate survey is an instrument used to measure the physical setting, human interactions, scholastic functionality and psychological stability of a school or district. Usually, these surveys are conducted once a year or once every two years, and the results are used to determine what changes are needed and what aspects are working well. Survey respondents can include students, parents, faculty and staff.

Benefits of Regularly Conducting Climate Surveys

Using the results of climate surveys, districts are able to:

  • Better plan allocation of funding, putting available resources to best use;

  • Pinpoint areas that need work, such as school safety and bullying prevention, learning environment effectiveness, or student engagement;

  • Determine effectiveness of faculty and staff performance (this can be a benefit, but can also be quite controversial);

  • Gauge extent of parental involvement with district programs and student learning;

  • Compare current level of student engagement with years past; and

  • Improve academic achievement.  

By regularly conducting climate surveys, the district fosters a sense of connectedness with the students, parents and personnel.

Then There is the Dark Side...

 School Climate Survey resized 600

I recently came across a couple of instances in which the School Climate Survey has gone awry. I am sure this is not a common occurance, but I thought it was interesting. 

New York Daily News, April 13, 2013

"City investigators are probing a whopping 21 cases of ethical misconduct on the annual schools survey from 2013, Education Department officials said Friday. Results from the high-stakes polls of students, teachers and parents are used in decisions to award cash bonuses to principals and close schools when scores are bad.

They're also used to award the letter grades all public schools get on their annual city progress reports. Department rules prohibit principals from attempting to influence the surveys, but that hasn't kept school leaders around the city from trying to game the system."

The article goes on to tell of a school principal who pressured teachers and staff to give her better ratings on this year's survey. The students were also "coached" to give more positive ratings on the survey.

In another article, the writer questioned the validity of the survey questions themselves. 

Washington Post blog – The Answer Sheet, May 23, 2011

"Too often, though, survey questions reflect a set of hidden assumptions about what's desirable, or inevitable. Moreover, they help to cement that view of education into place. The issues about which people are invited to express their opinions are most revealing for what's not being asked: the underlying ideological commitments that aren't open to question. The more we're asked to offer feedback about how well the school is doing 'X', the less apt we are to ask why 'X' is being done in the first place, and what might be done instead."

A commenter on the blog, obviously an educator, states that in his district, a consulting firm has been retained by the district and has introduced a business driven model to the surveys. This person states that, "the primary objective of the surveys are to create "smoke and mirrors" for the illusion of success. This comment alludes to the surveys having little to do with education or research, but are simply being used for determining merit pay. 

Use the Force!

This "Dark Side" of school climate surveys is, I am sure, the exception, rather than the norm. The information gathered from these surveys is invaluable when used to make changes to better the education being delivered. When greed, self-promotion or manipulation creep into the picture, this tool can be hijacked and cause the "school climate" to grow increasingly inhospitable. Thank goodness that most districts "use the Force" of climate surveys for good! 

Download Our School Climate Fact Sheet

Topics: scantron form, School climate surveys

Need to Increase Survey Response Rates? Send a Reminder!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on May 24, 2013 10:13:00 AM

Reminders Stimulate Response!

When planning your next direct mail or email survey project, don't forget to budget for at least one reminder postcard or email. This important nudge can exponentially increase response rates and increase the value of your data and the quality of your findings.

Whether you are conducting a School Climate Parent Survey or a Customer Satisfaction Survey, higher response rates are always desirable. The better the response rate, the easier it is to make accurate predictions from the collected data. Generalizing results from a survey with low response rates may not give a true picture or a good random sampling of respondents.  

Most research that I have read is in agreement that reminders–reminder emails for online surveys and reminder postcards or letters for postal mail surveys–will increase response rates.

Best Practices for Increasing Response Rates

Several activities have been shown to be helpful in getting better response rates.


  • Sending a personalized pre-survey invitation or announcement.

  • Keeping survey short and succinct.

  • Offering an incentive that is of value to the respondents.

  • Sending a reminder email or postcard 4-7 days after the survey was received. (Sending more than one reminder is even better!) Make sure your reminder conveys a sense of urgency as to the importance of completing the survey.


Typically, if a person is going to respond to your survey invitation, they will do so almost immediately after the survey is received. In our experience, about 50% of the responses you will receive will happen before the first reminder is sent out. Each reminder sent will usually result in an additional 50%. That is, if you receive 100 responses from the initial survey being sent out, a reminder will usually generate another 50 responses. A second reminder will probably bring in another 25 responses. 

Mailed Surveys vs. Online Surveys

An online survey invitation is usually a link and password provided through an email. Subsequent reminder emails would also have a link to access the survey. For email reminders, we recommend 2-3 reminders, spaced 4-7 days apart.

Surveys sent through the US mail are a little more complex. In many cases, we will send the initial survey, followed by a reminder, followed by a second copy of the survey. This pattern seems to produce the best results and highest response rates.

Timing is Everything

In addition to reminder emails or postcards, another important way to increase response rates is to carefully time the delivery of your survey or survey invitation email. To best time your survey, know your audience. If you are sending a survey out to a business or educational audience, avoid busy times, holidays or weekends. If your survey is going out to the general population in a community, the timing is not so critical, but avoiding busy times and holidays will give your email a better chance of being read. During holidays or election time, a survey invitation may be thrown away as spam or junk mail. Careful timing will increase response rates on most surveys. 

Make the most of your survey investment, by getting more quality responses using reminders!


Get a Free OMR Sample  Form Design!

Topics: Customer Satisfaction Survey, School climate surveys, survey printing

The Best Way to Do Conference Evaluations? Try a Hybrid Approach!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Apr 11, 2013 11:31:00 AM

Use Paper Survey AND Mobile Internet Survey to Get the Most from Conference Speaker Evaluations!

Everything has a "hybrid" version these days! Hybrid vehicles use more than one source of power, hybrid dog breeds are all the rage (such as the goldendoodle), and hybrid golf clubs combine the distance of a wood with the accuracy of an iron. The idea of a hybrid is to capture the "best of both worlds" to improve a product's performance or a consumer's experience.

Now, consider a hybrid conference session evaluation:

Session evaluation, conference evaluation sample, scantron form

 • A simple, easy to use paper evaluation form the attendees can fill out before leaving the session room while the details of the session are fresh in their mind.


• An online evaluation optimized for mobile devices that allows your attendees to rate the session on their phone or tablet. This option allows the evaluation to be done at the conference, but also allows for a later response. 


By having both paper and online rating options, your session evaluations provide the best of both worlds! For the 50-75% of Americans who have a smart phone or a tablet, you have increased their incentive to respond by making the evaluation easier to complete and technologically interesting. For those not equipped with a mobile device, or for those attendees concerned about responding electronically, you have provided an easy way for them to respond on paper.

Know Your Audience!

It is probably not prudent to assume that all of the attendees at your conference can or will want to rate a session online. I recently read a blog post regarding a conference evaluation survey that was done online, using a QR code to allow quick access to the evaluation survey. The conference manager printed the QR code in the program book and on various signs around the conference site. He assumed that the technology was familiar to everyone, and so little explanation was given, and no alternative to the QR code URL was offered. Needless to say, the conference evaluation was a dismal failure! It is definitely important to be aware of the demographics of your attendees and create a conference evaluation methodology that will best fit your organization's unique group.

Session evaluations,speaker evaluation sample, scantron forms

Not every attendee will have a smart phone or tablet and be able to utilize the mobile version of your session or speaker evaluation, but for those folks who have the technology at hand, the hybrid evaluation will simplify the process.

For more ideas and information about Conference Evaluations and sample session evaluation & sample conference evaluation forms, click the the button below and download our free planning guide!

Download Conference Evaluation Planning Guide  and Start to Measure Your Success!

Topics: session evaluation, conference evaluation

5 Reasons to Use a QR Code on Your Next Conference Evaluation Form

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Feb 23, 2013 6:22:00 PM

There is a rapidly growing trend to use online surveys instead of old fashioned paper surveys, especially in commercial uses such as customer satisfaction surveys and conference evaluations. How many times has a cashier handed you your purchase receipt which has a URL and an invitation printed on it for completing a survey online? Most people these days not only have access to a computer and the Internet, both at home and at work, but also access most anywhere through mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Our blog space has several posts on the lower response rates generated by online surveys vs. paper survey forms, but what if you had both available? In theory, at least, that would provide the highest response rate, while offering your respondents the choice of medium.

What is a QR Code?

QR or "quick response" codes are two dimensional symbols similar to barcodes. Where barcodes only span horizontally and are limited to a maximum of 20 digits, QR codes span horizontally and vertically, and can hold up to a maximum of 7,089 characters. QR codes are used to provide a quick link between printed media and digital content. Most often, the link created leads the user to a specific URL online, but the code can also be created to transfer contact information (think business card), shopping coupons, electronic images–most anything you can imagine. The codes were originally developed by a Toyota subsidiary to track automobile parts. Free QR code reader apps are readily available for most mobile devices, or may even come preloaded on your smart phone. There are also numerous sites online at which you can create, print and save your own QR codes for free.

Survey Systems, Conference Evaluation Sample

You have probably seen these funny codes in a multitude of places, not all practical or even useful. A giant QR code on a billboard is a bit hard to scan with your cell phone while driving down the freeway!

Why You Should Use QR Codes on Your Next Conference Evaluation

1. A QR code is the easiest way to make a connection between offline and online!

2. If you offer both a paper and an online session evaluation form, a QR Code on your paper session evaluation form can allow an attendee to instantly access the online version of your form on their smart phone or other mobile device. This should increase response rates for your session evaluations!

3. If you offer only a paper session evaluation form, a QR Code on your form can link attendees to your conference website, or give instant access to an online, downloadable program or schedule.

4. People love to use their gadgets! Next time you are in a restaurant or coffee shop, count the number of people that are clicking away on their cell phones or tablets.

5. Save the Date! A QR Code can be created and added to your form that will put the dates for next year's conference onto their cell phone calendar. What a great way to promote your next event.

Session Evaluation, Scantron Form, Conference Evaluation

Click on the green QR Code at the top of the survey image above to go to the online version of this evaluation. Note: the online version has been specially formatted for functionality on mobile devices (i.e., smart phones or tablets).

Try using QR codes on your next conference session evaluation and boost your response rates!

For more ideas and information about Conference Evaluations and sample session evaluation & sample conference evaluation forms, click the the button below and download our free planning guide!

Download Conference Evaluation Planning Guide  and Start to Measure Your Success!


Topics: session evaluation, conference evaluation

Conference Evaluations - Why Bother?

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Dec 14, 2012 12:51:00 PM

An important part of conference management is the conference evaluation. Most association conferences are repeated annually, so it is critical for the planners to make an assessment of the quality of symposium sessions, speakers and overall experience. An unpleasant or unproductive experience may keep attendees from going to future events. Only by getting relevant feedback from those in attendance will you ever know how well your conference was received and who you can count on to provide quality presentations for your future events.

Why Bother?

A good conference planner will have a clear understanding of their goals and objectives and have an effective review process in choosing speakers and session topics. Speaker or teacher selections often come from personal encounters, but most come from recommendations of others. Speakers, session topics, venues and amenities don't always meet expectations and may need to be revised before your next event. You can find out an incredible amount of valuable information by providing attendees with an easy conference evaluation tool that will assist you in making the necessary changes in environment, personnel and material. Conference evaluations will help to insure a more successful event in the future.

quality conference evaluations

What Kind of Questions to Ask

With a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the conference in mind, prepare a comprehensive list of questions and associated measurable responses regarding individual speakers and sessions. It is important to find out if the speaker was knowledgeable, and if they were able to deliver their knowledge in a relevant and effective manner. It is also important to find out if session topics were timely and applicable to the needs and expectations of the attendees. An easy conference evaluation instrument can make this happen.

Capturing a general sense of attendee satisfaction, including the site location, amenities, meeting facility, networking opportunities, A/V equipment, etc. is usually accomplished through an "overall" conference survey. This type of survey can give you a sense of what worked well and what can be improved upon at your next meeting location. Often times, attendees are also polled on future meeting locations and/or topics. Using an overall conference survey is also a way to collect demographic information on attendees in order to asses how well your conference is meeting the needs of people in different industries, job titles, or different age groups.

How and When to Administer Your Conference Surveys

For best response rates, administer session evaluation forms at the end of each session. The details of the sesion and of the speaker's performance will be fresh in the minds of attendees and it will be easier for them to respond constructively. Many organizations will offer an incentive to attendees to increase response rates. Offering a raffle ticket or chance to win a price for each evaluation submitted will definitely inspire participation and make the survey results more meaningful. Overall conference evaluations are sometimes inserted into programs or other conference materials.

There are several different methods to facilitate conference evaluations. Machine-readable paper forms are easy to administer and offer simplicity and confidentiality. Paper surveys make it easier to control respondent participation, and are accurate in capturing data. Online surveys can also be used, either alone or in conjunction with paper surveys. An online survey is harder to control, in that an attendee may respond right away or wait as long as a week or two before they get around to submitting responses. Email reminders can be sent out to encourage participants to fill out online evaluations.

We would love to hear about your experience in administering conference or teacher evaluations. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Improve your next event using attendee conference evaluations! Click on the link below to download our Conference Session Evaluation Planning Guide.

 Download Conference Evaluation Planning Guide  and Start to Measure Your Success!



Topics: session evaluation, teacher evaluation, conference evaluation