There are few ways to better determine how your audience feels about your workshop than a survey. Until recently, most workshop questionnaires were conducted by having a stack of paper surveys placed on a table at the back of the room. If the planners were lucky, a few people would grab a piece of paper and turn it in before the conference was over. However, most attendees ignored the survey because they were in a rush to get to the next event, or didn’t want to hassle with finding a pen and a hard surface to complete the survey.
For those few surveys that were completed, the show staff would have to manually compile the results (usually into spreadsheet) and spend a lot of time compiling this data into manageable reports. In the end, the survey process was both time-consuming and resulted in a low response rate.
Technology takes most of the manual compilation out of the workshop survey process. As we will now see, simple technology implementations of surveys can greatly improve results and efficiency. However, the new mobile standard for surveys puts everything before to shame.
Better Than Nothing: Online Survey Form
Just going online should both greatly increase your response rate and save time. Here are some good starting steps:
- You will need good online survey software to get started. If the number of workshops you have is not prohibitive, you may want to combine the workshop surveys and the general conference survey into one survey.
- Send an Email to the attendees immediately upon the conclusion of the conference. If your survey software is linked to your online registration software, this step will be very easy. If you have an external registration system you will have to take extra time to import the attendee list into that software.
- Send a follow up Email a few days later to those who did not complete the survey.
- All survey results should be immediately accessible through spreadsheet reports. You can then format and distribute as you see fit.
Better: Workshop Surveys
While just going online should yield impressive results, there is still a lot of room for improvement. In particular, waiting till the end of the conference to issue the survey causes a couple of problems. First of all the immediacy of the attendee’s impressions of the earlier parts of the show will be lost. Secondly, you will probably miss out on those people who upon leaving the conference are diving into their next set of meetings.
- As opposed to the first scenario, each workshop questionnaire will be their own survey and is not rolled into the general conference survey.
- If you create web-mobile friendly (or responsive) forms, then the attendee can answer the survey directly on his or her phone. This alone will give you a major increase in response.
- You should issue Emails to ask attendees to fill out the workshop surveys as each session ends. The Email should have a direct link to the survey.
- If you have multiple workshops going on at the same time and you do not know who is attending what, you may need a landing page where the attendee can pick the appropriate breakout survey.
- To avoid this extra step, you will need to know who attends or is likely to attend each workshop. For this to work best, your registration system will need to track workshop pre-registration and attendance.
- If tied with your registration system, survey responses are directly tied to the attendee. This will allow you to tie survey responses with attendee demographic information for deep data mining of the results.
Best! Mobile Surveys
Good mobile attendee apps bring this all together in an easy to use solution.
- The survey can be completed directly on the app, typically accessed directly from the screen describing the session. The best thing about that is the immediacy of the response – the attendee has the ability to capture his or her impressions and comments in real-time.
- Having the survey on the app also gives the attendee the ability to go back and update the survey as the workshop progresses or thoughts change.
- Like the Emailed survey, the responses can be tied back to specific attendees.
- Besides being able to encourage responses via Email, mobile apps give you the ability to use real-time notifications and messaging to encourage the attendee to answer the survey.
- If available, you can use workshop sign ups recorded with the registration software to control which surveys can be completed.
- Furthermore, with good session tracking software you can further control responses based upon who has been scanned entering a particular workshop.
Using software as described above can not only greatly improve your survey response rate, but can provide an extra dimension to your survey reporting by tying results to attendee demographics. With a one-stop shop that provides registration, surveys and mobile apps you can also eliminate wasted time in integrating different systems together.
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