If you’re holding an event for the first time, such as a conference or a course, and you want to get some valuable feedback so you know what went well and what needs some work for next time, it can be difficult to make everyone stick around for long enough to fill in a survey. Piles of paper questionnaires tend to be left behind or never handed in, and links to email surveys are never clicked.
However, you want that feedback, right? Anything that will help you craft a better event in future can only be a good thing. It’s not easy to come up with ways to get everyone’s honest opinion. Asking for a show of hands or asking for verbal suggestions tends to be fairly fruitless, as one person will dominate the conversation or everyone will be politely honest, or you will simply be met with stony silence.
The best way to get genuine feedback is to use some form of anonymous voting. This is where the audience response system comes in. If people don’t think that their vote will be attributed to them, they are far more likely to give honest feedback. While you may find that it is less positive than you are necessarily used to, this should be considered a good thing. Rather than simply ticking all of the ‘very good’ boxes in case of any awkward questions about why the event wasn’t up to scratch, people will feel more comfortable in giving honest, constructive feedback.
Furthermore, because everyone needs to be present to use the voting system, you will receive a much more representative range of feedback, rather than comments only from the most confident, dominant members of the group. It means that quieter attendees who wouldn’t normally speak up are able to contribute their opinion without having to speak in front of the group.
This feedback is, of course, invaluable. Without it, how can you be expected to improve the user experience? If this is the first event of its kind, it can be easy to vastly misjudge what your attendees are looking to gain from the event. You might have thought that role play was a good way to show people how to approach a situation, when actually they all found a talk from an expert much more useful. This means that next time you put on a similar event, you can take this new, honest feedback on board to improve the event for everyone.