Post-Event Surveys Don’t Work

By Sean Gibbons, CEO of The Communications Network and Elena Harman, Founder and CEO of Vantage Evaluation

Are your events making an impact? You won’t be able to tell with a post-event survey.

Think about it:

  1. People have terrible memories. The moment they leave your event, they start forgetting the details that could help improve future events.

  2. People have survey fatigue. The availability of SurveyMonkey and similar inexpensive tools have made post-event surveys so ubiquitous people have stopped paying attention to them. 

  3. Post-event surveys make it seem like you don’t listen. Often, you can’t change speakers, venues, or food because of the feedback you receive on a survey–wasting your time and your attendees’ time. 

The best practice for getting rich feedback about events is to engage with attendees in-the-moment, while the learning is fresh. And we’ll be modeling this approach at ComNet19. 

The Communications Network is partnering with Vantage Evaluation to model how a conference evaluation should be done, with a live-action learning lab. This means you’ll get to share what you are learning with us and each other in real-time. Plus you can choose your own adventure: 

  • Share challenges, insights, or a moment of inspiration or fun on our Sharing Wall.

  • Add your pin to the Network Analysis Map to show your connections to others.

  • Take photos and share connections you’ve made or challenges you face at our Photo Station.

  • Share what you’re learning through the ComNet19 app.

  • Respond to the Question of the Day via Twitter or Reflection Cards.

All of these opportunities are designed to help foster conversation with your peers and help you connect with the best ideas emerging in the field. But they are also innovative evaluation tools that will provide rich feedback and guidance for the next 40 years of The Communications Network’s journey. We sincerely hope all the rooms are at just the right temperature, that the technology works, and that the food is delicious. But we really want to know if and how we are delivering on The Network’s core values of community, learning, and leadership. And that’s what we’ve designed our evaluation to capture.

The Communications Network will use the live-action learning lab findings to improve the way we plan, execute and deliver future conferences, network programs, and engagement. Even better, rather than getting that post-conference survey, we’ll be sharing what we learned. We’ll also give you a behind-the-scenes look at the whole process in a blog series so that you can apply it to your own work. 

We are thrilled to get more in-depth and personal feedback from you in Austin. Stay tuned for more details and please connect with us if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you soon!

P.S. If you just can’t wait to see how it all plays out, or you want to volunteer to help, check out Vantage Evaluation’s pre-conference session on “Evaluating Conferences Without the Dreaded Post-Survey.”