Survey Systems Blog

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

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

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