Best Practices for Creating a Useful Post-Event Survey

You spent hours upon hours planning and managing your event. That’s why understanding what worked and what didn’t is crucial to making sure your attendees come back next year. The worst thing is to put all your time, effort, and budget into an event that doesn’t meet attendee expectations. This article will cover best practices for creating a useful post-event survey to get the most out of your attendee feedback.

Who should you ask for feedback?

1. Attendees

It goes without saying that the priority audience is your attendees, so it makes sense that how they experienced your event is of the utmost importance. If they had a positive experience at your event, they will be more likely to remain engaged within your event community, return for the next event, and act as an advocate to promote your event to their peers. If attendee needs weren’t satisfied, they will be looking for a way to voice their opinions. Getting their feedback in a formal way will allow them to provide genuine feedback that will not only allow them to vent, but also provide you with valuable insights into how to improve your next event experience. It also gives you the opportunity to provide a response to any negative experiences and inform them of how the event will be improved for next time.

2. Event Volunteers/Staff

The first go-to group to ask for feedback is your attendees. But another important group that can give you guidance on designing a better event experience are the people who actually organized and ran your event! Event volunteers and staff are a great resource to learn about what worked and how things could be improved for the next time.

Whether it’s selling scanning name badges, assisting with registration, or providing help with directions throughout the venue, volunteers are your best source for direct face-to-face feedback from attendees. The feedback they get can provide really valuable insight into how to improve processes at your next event, and what things were successful so you know to keep incorporating. 

You don’t necessarily need to send a formal survey to your volunteers like you would with attendees. Instead, you could send an email expressing your thanks and asking if they have any feedback they’d like to share.

3. Event Sponsors

Event sponsors are just as important to your event’s success in terms of generating event revenue. If you only have a few sponsors, getting feedback from them can be done with a simple email or phone call. However, if you many sponsors, creating a post-event survey would be more efficient in following-up. Additionally, this way provides the benefit of anonymity to your sponsors.

Creating your post-event survey goals

Before you send out a survey to your target audiences, it’s crucial that you first understand what your goals are. This way, you’ll be able to craft survey questions that will actually provide value and enable you to measure your success.

Feedback seeks to answer:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • Why?

You want to know what worked, so that you can repeat it, and what didn’t, so you can fix it. 

Questions should address:

  • Event highlightsThese are the “favorites.” What were the biggest successes of your event that got attendees excited? 
  • Ways to improve event managementThese are the “least favorites.” This is where the real nuggets of gold come out because you can learn and improve to get the most long-term success in your event management.
  • Measuring overall event satisfaction – Every event will have positive and negative elements. Each guest will have their own unique take since the event experience is so subjective.

How to craft compelling survey questions

Include event survey questions that give numerical results so they can be measured objectively. For example, ask attendees to rate their satisfaction, or how likely they are to recommend the event to a friend.

There are many cheap (or even free) survey software providers that enable you to write, distribute, and review your survey questions. However, if your event is using a mobile event app, you can provide easy and immediate access for attendees by including the survey directly within the app. This will get you the highest response rate because the experience is still fresh in their minds.

There are three main types of questions used in post-event surveys:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Rating questions
  • Multiple-choice questions

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are a great way to get first-hand knowledge of an attendee’s experience because responses are in their own words. However, be careful to not ask too many open-ended questions because it’s difficult to tabulate and quantify the results from your end.

Examples of questions: 

  • What did you like most about the event?
  • What would you like to see improved for next year’s event?
  • Were there any parts of the event that you found particularly useful?
  • What was your least favorite part of this event?
  • Will this event help further your career/your team’s goals/your company’s ROI? If so, how?
  • Do you have any topic or speaker suggestions for future events?

Rating questions

Rating questions make use of scales as a way for your respondents to provide feedback. For example, you could ask, “On a scale from 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with this event?” The ranking is usually done on a numerical scale, such as from 1-to-5, or two anchoring points that are opposite views, such as strongly disagree to strongly agree.

Examples of questions: 

On a scale from 1 to 5, with one being low and five being high:

  • How would you rate the quality of each speaker?
  • How likely are you to recommend this conference to a friend or coworker?
  • How likely are you to attend this event again next year?
  • How would you rate the value of this conference?
  • How satisfied were you with the event’s agenda?
  • How would you rate your overall experience?
  • How would you rate the quality of the networking at this event?

You can also create a matrix, or a grid, to ask participants to rate multiple factors within the same question.

Multiple-choice questions

These are questions where you give attendees a choice between specific responses. It could be multiple-choice, where they select the best-fitting answer, or “choose all that apply,” where they select all relevant boxes.

Examples of questions: 

  • How did you first hear about the conference?
  • Have you attended this conference before?
  • Did the conference meet your expectations?
  • What factors determine your decision to attend conferences and other professional development?
  • Which speakers did you enjoy?
  • Did you participate in any of the after-conference activities? 
  • Did you have enough time for Q&A at the end of each presentation?

Related Resources

Best Practices for Evaluating Event Success
Feedback Gathering at Events
How to Avoid Sending out the Worst Event Survey Ever