Event Survey Questions For Feedback That Matters
Whatever event you’re involved with, however large or small, and whatever stage you’re at – whether you are still planning, are mid event, or following up after it’s finished – getting feedback is vital. Getting input from attendees throughout the event lifecycle will help you to make the improvements needed to achieve even greater success in the future.
The event survey is at the heart of this process, giving you the essential insights from what new things attendees want to see, to highlighting what’s going well or not so well during your event, and then post event evaluation, so you can make any necessary improvements for your next event. Selecting the right survey questions is critical to make the most of the opportunity.
Survey question and design considerations
If you’re to optimise your response rate and the thoughts of your attendees before, during and following your event, it’s essential that you’ve optimised your survey design and the quality of your survey questions.
When it comes to questions to ask in a survey it’s useful to be aware of some staple questions that tend to be used in most event surveys, before exploring questions that meet more niche needs.
Good examples include:
Have you attended this event before?
Why did you choose to attend this event?
How did you hear about this event?
How would you rate the venue?
What are your thoughts on the event so far?
What did you most enjoy about this event?
How likely are you to recommend this event to a friend or colleague?
Are we likely to see you at next year’s event?
To help maximise the initial impact and engagement of your survey, there are also a number of design considerations you need to be thinking about too, including timing...
Timing isn’t always a one-size-fits-all formula. And that’s certainly the case when it comes to event surveys.
While surveys administered during your event will be ongoing from the time it starts to when it ends, there’s more debate about the best time to send a pre-event and a post event survey.
For pre-event surveys it all depends on what you’re looking to find out.
For example, if you’re interested in knowing what sorts of topics and content people want to hear more about, you might want to send a survey out 3-4 months before your event starts. This should give you ample time to collect and analyse feedback and then share them with your speakers and shape your content accordingly.
Alternatively, if your questions were more logistics and demographic based, in order to find out about the best timetable for your attendees and better understand the make up of your audience, you would probably only need 2-3 weeks.
For post event surveys the timing will be a little more definite and you will generally want to catch them while things are still relatively fresh in their minds. Many of the people who’ve attended your event, particularly if it’s a business one, are likely to have been to many other events too. So, if you’ve left it too long, they may forget the little details that they liked or disliked. Or worse still, get your event muddled with another one. So, to give you the best chance of gathering clear, consistent thoughts, it’s best to send attendees your post-event survey within one business day of your event finishing.
You’ll also want to think about the structure of your questions, as different question types are more suited to collecting different types of feedback, such as quantitative, qualitative and binary information, with each having an impact on the quality of your research.
These quantitative style questions are great when you want to quickly gather facts or number driven data. When used in event surveys they are typically presented as multiple-choice questions, with attendees having to choose from a series of options on subjects ranging from where they first heard about the event and which speakers they are most excited about, to rating what they thought of the event and their favourite social media platforms.
Similar to closed questions and in particular dichotomous questions, binary questions where attendees are asked to answer a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ checkbox-style question, are great when event organisers want to quickly gather numbers on a series of issues. The sorts of areas referred to here could range from anything such as asking for an attendee’s permission to be contacted, to asking if they’ve attended the event before and whether they will attend again.
Open ended questions
There will also be plenty of other occasions when event organisers want to gather more qualitative data, to get the thoughts and feelings of attendees about various aspects of their event. In this scenario the use of open-ended questions, will be provided to enable the participant to answer in their own words. Areas for exploration could include anything from why they chose to attend the event and who was their favourite speaker and why, to examining if there was any information they found difficult to understand.
Use of advanced features
Given the sophistication of today’s online survey software, you might also like to consider using advanced features such as skip logic and piping, to help improve the relevancy and feel of your survey, which can make all the difference if those filling it out are short on time.
For example, with skip logic, if someone had attended your event before, you could skip them past the questions that are more suited to event newbies and onto other more relevant questions, such as how this year’s event compared to the last one they attended. Similarly, to ensure your survey was quick to compete, you could save your respondents time in having to type in the same information twice, by piping through their answers from previous questions to futures ones where a similar answer was required.
Example event survey questions
Depending on where you’re at with your current survey, whether you’re still in the planning stage, mid event, or you’ve just completed an event, its useful to be able to draw on some example questions that are specific to the stage that you’re at. That’s why we’ve outlined some sample questions for you to think about below:
Pre-event survey questions
Although we’ve already covered some of these questions earlier when we talked about staple questions to ask in an event survey, such as “How did you hear about this event?” and “Have you attended this event before?”
Having some further and more specific questions to ask in the planning stage, can help you to better understand your attendees and meet their needs.
"Do you find the location of this event easy to get to?"
This question can be especially useful for events that are out of town or have moved from a regular location, with the feedback enabling you to decide if you want to return to this venue again in the future.
"Will you be staying at one of the suggested hotels?"
Organisers of large events will typically partner with local hotels. So, by asking this question it enables both the event organiser and the hotels to estimate the how many rooms they are likely to fill, which can also help them make predictions for other events.
"Do you have special needs or accommodations you would like to make us aware of?"
From inclusivity to accessibility. By asking this question well in advance and identifying people who have special needs and what they may require extra support with, you can ensure you’ve properly planned for and are able to meet these needs when your event starts.
"Which speakers are you most looking forward to hearing?"
The speakers and speaker content are huge draws to any event. So, understanding what level of excitement there is surrounding speakers and their content is extremely useful data to have. The results can enable you to tweak your itinerary and other activities, whether that’s extra seating and photography or videography for your most popular speaker slots, to securing extra sponsorship for these sessions.
Mid event survey questions
Even when you have completed your planning and your event has started, asking ongoing survey questions is extremely valuable and provides the opportunity to make further tweaks.
Besides some of the questions we referred to earlier, such as: “How would you rate the venue?” and “What are your thoughts on the event so far?”, there are a number of further questions that could be beneficial including:
"Are you satisfied with check-in?"
The check-in process can often be a real hassle for attendees. Yet it’s also one of the very first opportunities event organisers have to make an impression. So, being able to gather this feedback and make any necessary improvements with your check in teams, as your event progresses can be really helpful to this process.
"How would you rate that speaker / workshop / activity?"
This question can help you with deciding which speakers and workshops should be brought back next year and which should be replaced. It also gives you an insight into which sessions and topics are proving the most popular.
"Which was your favourite breakout session / speaker / presentation / menu item?"
From your quality of catering and content, to the skills of your speakers. It can be useful to know what your attendees are enjoying the most across a wide range of areas, as your event progresses. You could even use the real-time feedback you collect to create ongoing polls and announce crowd favourites throughout the event on channels including social media, to help boost further engagement.
"How would you rate the audio?"
Asking practical questions such as this, can also arm event organisers with more information to make any necessary improvements, whether that’s identifying breakout or lecture rooms with audio issues or speakers requiring extra support to be heard or understood.
Post event survey questions
As we have already alluded to, it’s important to get your post event survey questions to your attendees as quickly as you can after your event has finished, if you’re to gather the most valuable feedback. And besides more general questions such as “What did you most enjoy about this event?” and “Are we likely to see you at next year’s event?”
There are a number of further questions that could be beneficial asking at this stage including:
"How likely are you to recommend this event to a friend or colleague?" (using a scale rating of 1-10, where 0 is very unlikely to 10, which is extremely likely)
One of the most common post event survey questions is the ‘net promoter score’ or NPS question. Your NPS is the ultimate satisfaction indicator because it forces the respondent to assess the whole value of your event and answer it in a very simple way. Besides asking your attendees you could pose this question to speakers and vendors as well, as a way of boosting your speaker and vendor networking for future events.
"What did you dislike about the event?"
Identifying what people didn’t like is just as important as knowing what they loved. You often learn more through negative feedback too and it gives you greater opportunities to improve the overall standard of your event the next time around.
"Did you learn anything new or valuable at this event?"
This is an interesting question, which can be valuable in terms of event evaluation.
Event organisers will typically have an idea about the key messages they want to communicate at the start of the event, with the answers you get back to this question enabling you to see if these have been successfully transmitted or not. It can also put a new spin on something that you may not have thought of, offering new opportunities for you to focus on at future events.
"Do you have any feedback or suggestions to share?"
This open-ended question can potentially be one of your strongest post event questions, as it allows attendees to say anything on their minds that they may not have had the time or opportunity to mention before. Subsequently, it can allow you to make further improvements, or add new additions that will further improve your event, when you next host it.