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.
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.
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 input...it'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.