Event Tech Strategy, Insights & Trends.

Why you Should be Collecting Qualitative not Quantitative Feedback on Your Events

Do you send out a survey after your event to get feedback on how all you did from your attendees? You do? Most event organisers do.

On the one hand this is a good thing. Any business that listens to it’s customers is a better company than those who don’t. The thing that concerns me based upon the feedback I’m asked to provide on events, is that the feedback is quantitative. Rate us how we did on this thing out of five. On these other aspect of our event how did we do out of ten? I understand why we set up questionnaires like this. Qualitative feedback can be messy and hard to deal with. Plus survey software turns numerical data into nice charts. How useful is that data?

I’ve spoken at events where I’ve had feedback on my talk. This is rare but not that useful. I scored 8.23 on knowledge and 7.86 on presentation style. That doesn’t help me in any way shape or form. Next time I’ve got to make a real effort to make my knowledge come across as a 8.57 instead.

This kind of data can be useful for event organisers where you rank speakers or sessions on how popular they were. This has uses. If you were in the room when that speaker delivered the talk you can tell me who knocked it out the park and who you won’t be re-booking. I’m not sure how much use I get out of knowing which of my speakers was seventh most popular.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be asking for feedback. I think we all need more feedback on our events. Yet that feedback needs to be useful.

I’m interested in spotting themes and patterns in the feedback.

One exercise that can work well is gathering all your team together. Open up a big pack of post-it notes and Sharpies and go through your messy qualitative feedback. Your job is to pick out the main thrust of those comments. Jot that down on a Post-It note and then move onto the next email. Once you’ve got through all your feedback as a group, start popping he Post-It notes on the wall. Cluster together those with similar themes.

This helps you pick out the issues that you have to respond to and the things you’re doing a good job with.

This gives you feedback you can respond to.

Lots of people complaining about the length of your talks being too long – shorten them.

People love the venue but hate the wifi – sort that out.

People wish you had more speakers covering a certain topic – find people who can cover it.

Real feedback that you can actually do something with.

There’s another great outcome of seeking non-numerical feedback. It’s much better for getting testimonials. If someone sends some nice feedback, you’ve got your comment ready to cut and paste onto your website. Just hit reply to that email, ask their permission and you are good to go. That testimonial is honest and going to help you get more registrations in the future.

Sound complicated?

It needn’t be, after each event I ask four simple questions. Between these four questions I usually get exactly the feedback I’m looking for. The good and the bad. Something I can respond to.

What did you like best about the event?

What did you like the least?

What topics should the next conference cover?

What thing can we do make the event better?

That’s it! Four simple questions and lots of useful feedback.


 Kelvin-NewmanKelvin Newman, Founder– Rough Agenda

Kelvin Newman is the founder and managing director of Rough Agenda, a company with the lofty ambition of helping Digital Marketers do their job a little better, the main way we do this is through the free to attend specialist digital marketing events BrightonSEOContent Marketing ShowMeasureFest and Biddable World.

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