The Ultimate Guide to Post Event Survey Questions: How to Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time
By Christine Gray ,
The Definitive Guide to Post Event Survey Questions: Ask the Right Questions at the Right TimeIf you're planning an event, whether it's a small gathering or a large conference, it's important to gather feedback from attendees. Surveys are a valuable tool for event organizers to understand what worked well and what could be improved for future events. However, it's not just about sending out a survey after the event. The questions you ask and the timing of those questions can greatly impact the quality of feedback you receive. In this ultimate guide, we'll explore how to ask the right questions at the right time to gather the most valuable insights.
Why use event survey questions?You and your team have put so much time and effort into your event. But what is the point, if you don’t gather a reaction from your attendees? What you might think is a big win for the event may not have been so well received by your audience. Or, what you might think missed the mark, could well resonate with them. A well-structured feedback survey will:
- give you an accurate rating of how your guests felt about the event.
- determine if your event goals are met.
- reveal the guests’ priorities and preferences.
What are the different types of event survey questions?There are a few options for event survey questions. The key ones are:
Multiple choiceFor feedback such as venue location, speaker/session choices etc
Radio button questionsGenerally used to gather the guests’ ranking such as 1-10. This is particularly useful to gather an NPS (Net Promoter Score) ranking for your event.
Open ended or “free text” questions - both short and longFor questions such as “is there any other feedback you would like to share?” You could also ask for nominations for sessions, suggestions for venues, etc.
How to create and structure event survey questions?An event survey is only effective if you receive a high volume of responses. There are a couple of key elements to preparing a successful event survey:
Tone of voiceEnsure you are politely asking for their time. Explain how important their feedback is in planning future events.
Keep it shortRemember that your guests are as busy as you are. You are more likely to get their attention and response if they know it won't take time. You should ask no more than 2-5 minutes of their time.
Keep it simpleMake the questions easy to answer. Use either multiple choice, radio button questions or sliding scale rankings from 1-10. Limit open-ended questions to one or two and make these optional.
Give attendees the opportunity to express their opinionSome attendees have definite ideas they want to convey to the organisers. Adding an open-ended (or free text) question such as “is there any feedback you wish to share?” can often reveal a goldmine of details that you can incorporate into the next event. Make sure this is an optional question. Those that don’t have time or feedback to share can skip over this.
How to choose the right set of event survey questions?Consider the key questions you need to be answered. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. What do you need from them to gauge the event’s rating and to plan for next time? Some tips for structuring the post-event survey:
- If you want to gauge the reaction to the speakers from a long agenda, consider asking for the top 3 choices. This will highlight the highest ranking sessions rather than ranking every speaker.
- Be careful to use positive language. Rather than “what didn’t you like?”, consider asking “where can we improve?” Negative language can encourage negative responses. There is no point in dwelling on the event that has finished - it can’t be changed. The real value is what you've learned for next time.
- Keep the questions clear and unambiguous. If the delegate doesn’t immediately understand the question, they won’t answer it correctly.
- For an email survey, make sure the subject identifies the event and is encouraging. An example: “2023 Annual Conference - We Want to Hear Your Thoughts”. There are so many feedback emails in our inboxes these days, it is important to get their attention.
Pre-event survey questionsBefore the event takes place, it's important to gather information from attendees to ensure a successful event. Pre-event surveys can help organizers understand attendee preferences, goals, and expectations. Here are some pre-event survey questions to consider:
What are your goals for attending this event?This question helps organizers understand what attendees hope to gain from the event. Responses can help shape the event's agenda, speakers, and content.
What sessions or topics are you most interested in?Knowing which sessions or topics attendees are most interested in can help organizers plan the event's schedule and content to maximize engagement.
What are your dietary restrictions?This question helps organizers plan meals and snacks that accommodate attendees' dietary needs.
How did you hear about the event?Understanding how attendees learned about the event can help organizers identify the most effective marketing channels and make data-driven decisions for future events.
What do you hope to gain from networking at the event?This question can help organizers create opportunities for attendees to connect and network with like-minded individuals.
During-event survey questionsDuring-event surveys are an opportunity to capture attendees' real-time feedback on the event's logistics and content. These surveys can help organizers make on-the-spot adjustments to improve the attendee experience. Here are some during-event survey questions to consider:
How was the registration process?This question helps organizers identify any logistical issues with registration and make on-the-spot adjustments to improve the process.
How is the event content so far?Understanding attendees' real-time feedback on event content can help organizers make adjustments to the schedule or speaker lineup.
Are there any technical issues or difficulties you've encountered?This question helps organizers identify and address any technical issues that may be impacting the attendee experience.
Are there any improvements you would suggest for the event so far?This open-ended question provides attendees with an opportunity to share their thoughts on how the event can be improved
Post-event survey questionsPost-event surveys are typically sent out after the event has ended and provide organizers with more in-depth feedback on the attendee experience. These surveys can help organizers identify what worked well and what could be improved for future events. Here are some post-event survey questions to consider:
Overall, how satisfied were you with the event?This question provides a broad understanding of attendees' overall satisfaction with the event and can help organizers identify areas for improvement.
Did the event meet your expectations?Understanding whether the event met attendees' expectations can help organizers adjust future events to better align with attendee needs and preferences.
Which session or speaker was your favourite and why?This question helps organizers understand what worked well and what didn't in terms of event content and can help shape future events.
Were there any aspects of the event that you didn't enjoy or found lacking?This open-ended question allows attendees to share their thoughts on what could be improved for future events.
Would you recommend this event to a colleague or friend?Understanding whether attendees would recommend the event to others can help organizers gauge the event's success and future potential.
Where do I find an online post-event survey?Most registration software platforms will include a survey builder. Because the delegates' details are in the database, it is a very efficient way of distributing the survey. If you do not have registration software, you could consider SurveyMonkey or SurveySparrow.
When should you send the post-event survey ?Have your survey prepared before or during the event so that it is sent within 24 hours of the conclusion. The timing is critical. You want to get your guests’ thoughts while the event experience is still top of mind. Follow-ups to non-responders should occur at 3-5 day intervals. Send no more than 3 follow-up emails. You don’t want to sour the experience by becoming a nuisance.
What are the most effective event survey questions?What types of feedback can you gather from post-event surveys? The feedback gathered will primarily determine what you need to plan for the next event. Some considerations are: Session/speaker ranking Will give you insight into the type of speaker or the session content the guests relate to and assist in choices for future agendas Venue and/or location preferences These are invaluable in choosing the venue for your next event
Opinions on what worked and what needs improvementWill determine a lot of the details and considerations for constructing the format of the next event as well as the finer details such as food service and menu options, seating, display locations etc. The above are typical for delegate feedback. You may also do separate versions of your survey for:
- sponsors and trade partners
How can event feedback surveys be used to improve the attendee experience?It is very rare that a guest will not be flattered by you asking for their opinion. By letting them know their feedback is important, you are acknowledging the value in their attendance. If they see that you have implemented that feedback in future events, guests will be more invested in becoming a promoter of the event to others.
What is the best format for an event feedback survey?To achieve high response rates, the survey should be an online form with no more than 10-12 questions. It should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete. Before asking your questions, consider if you need guests to identify themselves or can you allow anonymity for responses? Many attendees will be more open if their response is anonymous. But there may be situations where you do need to contact guests based on their feedback.
How can event planners utilise survey data?
- Test if the event’s goals have been met
- Determine guests’ preferences for future planning
- Provide speakers, stakeholders and sponsors with effective feedback
- Identify which sessions resonated with attendees
- Calculate rankings. Use these in marketing future events and benchmark against similar industry events
- Quote specific testimonials in marketing for future events
What types of questions should you ask in a post-event survey?
- Session/speaker ranking will give you insight as to the type of speaker or the session content the guests relate to and assist in choices for future agendas
- Venue and/or location preferences are invaluable in choosing the venue for your next event. Attendance will improve if guests like the venue/location.
- Opinions on what worked and what needs improvement will determine a lot of the details and considerations for constructing the format of the next event as well as the finer details such as food service options, seating, display locations etc.
- Consider questions specific to your event. For example, if it is a conference aimed at improving sales performance, you may ask - “What is one thing you will put in place on your return to the office?” These can be used to keep attendees accountable with follow-up from mentors etc. It is a great way to promote ongoing engagement with your delegates.
What types of questions can be used to measure attendee satisfaction?A ranking system for satisfaction can be a quick and effective way of gauging satisfaction with the event. Some examples are:
- How did you rate the event overall?
- How did you rate the speaker lineup?
- Were the breakout sessions relevant to you?
- Was the venue/location suitable?
- How likely are you to attend this event in the future?
- Would you recommend this event to your peers?
- Was the pre-event information useful?
- How did you rate the dinner entertainment?
- Did you enjoy the online delivery of xxx session?
- How easy was the polling app to navigate?
- Did the conference app provide all the information you needed?
- Were the check-in kiosks easier than collecting a printed name tag?