A common misconception is that event management comes to a close once the event itself is finished and over with. A literally immense amount of effort goes into preparing and running the event, so why would you want to continue working once it’s over? Conducting a staff debriefing session, for example, provides a critical insight into the workings of the entire event and is as indispensable a procedure as gaining feedback from all the attendees and following up on all channels. Implementing a few critical practices focusing on the post-event debriefing will provide invaluable data which you can use in your subsequent events as well as keeping the enthusiasm of all participants and stakeholders running high.

The debriefing process is a key to future success

The debrief should be the very first activity you engage in after your event is over. The debriefing process should include the extent of the meeting and planning team as well as any vendors, suppliers, associates or other parties that had a key role in the program. Discuss your mistakes and how could you improve on them for the next event, but also how the planning and budgeting process can be improved. The discussion shouldn’t focus on any particular subject for too long, but rather serve as a general overview of the event. This is why you have to make sure you keep control of the discussion, knowing when to offer a solution and move on to the next point of interest. Make sure to document the discussion and all identified mistakes and areas of improvement.

Hold separate debriefings with management and sponsors

A completely separate debriefing should be held with the management in order to receive feedback from their point of view, and you can be sure that the information you derive from that debriefing will be very different than the one presented to you by the attendees and the organizers. Since it is pretty much up to the management to set or approve the continuation of any event schedule, it is crucial to obtain their comprehensive evaluation on whether the goals of the event actually were achieved. Last but not least, you should check with all the sponsors, exhibitors, and other similar stakeholders and presenting participants to see if the event was worth their investment and if they have any suggestions or wishes for future events.

Ask your sponsors some critical questions

Consider asking the following questions of the sponsors as an integral part of this debriefing:
1. Would you attend again?
2. Was the location and time of the event suitable?
3. Did the event provide enough recognition for your participation?
4. How did you appreciate the networking opportunities?
5. What were the highlights (and lowlights) of the event?
6. What would you like to see changed or improved upon next time?

Obtain and then fully apply the insights you garner

Once you gather feedback from all possible sources you should analyze each and every bit of data so that the final results can be utilized to arrive at a thorough, accurate, and definitive evaluation. Store this information so that you can use it as a reference for any future events you organize as you will find that it can provide invaluable insight. Final summaries of the surveys should be also shared with the management and employees who are a part of the planning team. The information you gather can also be used as an inspiration for content creation for future programs. For example, in a large conference it might be important to find out more about the attendees and the roles they have in their organizations, regardless of that event being their first visit.

As a part of the debriefing and reviewing process, you should also look ahead at the next event from a marketing viewpoint. Based on the feedback you might consider hosting a smaller regional event in between your larger conferences, or any of a number of lucrative options you can concoct based on the perspective you obtain from the important debriefing procedures. Don’t go brief on your debrief as it is key to your future events’ success!