Here are some guidelines for evaluation of events to help you assess what worked, what didn’t work and where improvements can be made.
Opportunities for evaluation
There are many places or moments during and after events when you can collect feedback. Here’s a couple of examples.
1. Survey at an event
- Conduct a survey or provide feedback forms during the event. Ask people what they liked about your event and what they think could be improved.
- If you do intend to conduct a survey, the venue or landowner should be consulted prior to the event.
- Ask people attending the event if they know who the sponsors are. If large numbers of people associate the sponsor with the event, this will prove valuable when renegotiating sponsorships for the following year.
- You can engage in debriefing very casually at an event or in meeting places or walking home from an event.
- What is in fact a debriefing may appear to the participant simply a conversation and exchange of ideas.
More formal debriefing:
- To be of benefit, debrief as soon after the events as possible.
- For a debrief meeting include as many people as possible who were involved in the event. This might include staff, regulatory authorities, volunteers, emergency services, etc.
- Invite participants to the debrief meeting well in advance of the proposed date so people have the date in their diaries.
- Circulate an agenda that covers the key areas for discussion (even if there are only a few questions).
- If you send the agenda/questions beforehand, people can prepare their feedback for the meeting.
3. Evaluation sheet to all key stakeholders
- You could send out an evaluation sheet to all key stakeholders (especially those who can’t attend the debrief).
- You could seek feedback from suppliers, performers, venue managers and security guards as well as those directly involved with coordinating the event.
Guidelines for debriefing
These guidelines are relevant regardless of the size of the group or project/participants. The same approach can be applied to a small project involving only three or four people or a project involving a large number of people and multiple projects.
- There should be a facilitator—someone who leads the discussion (not the organiser).
- The facilitator or Australia Day organiser prepares a set of questions.
- The task of facilitator is not to present his/her own opinion but to create a possibility for all participants to contribute their ideas and feelings.
- The facilitator needs to make acceptable practice clear (e.g. to make sure there are no personal attacks on people).
- The facilitator has to ‘keep an eye open’ to make sure individuals are not sitting passively and not getting off the track.
- The facilitator should acknowledge time constraints while also assuring group that their contributions are important.
Two key questions can be very effective in structuring a debriefing:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
Within each key question you can ask:
- Why did things happen?
- What will we do differently and better next time?
- How can we use this information?