28 Post Event Survey Questions To Ask After Your Conference
Artwork by Mónica Alexis
28 Post-Event Survey Questions to Ask After Your Conference
You’ve just spent thousands of dollars on an event for your business. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sales event, team training or bonding exercise, or even a new product launch: every event organizer wants to know: How did my conference go? To answer that question fully you’ll need a post-event survey.
What are Post Event Surveys?
A post-event survey is a form you’ll send out to gauge the success of your conference or seminar after the event has finished. Most of the time, you’d send a post-event survey to attendees, but it can also be valuable to send them to your sponsors, staff, and any other stakeholders who attended.
Other Types Of Event Surveys
Pre-event surveys are surveys you’ll send out before the event: usually to find out things like dietary requirements and accommodations that your guests might need, or to compile a small amount of demographic data. Mid-event surveys are more common for long events, they might ask how the attendee feels so far, and what they aren’t enjoying. This gives event organizers the opportunity to adapt and adjust on the fly. These surveys are a valuable part of any conference planning checklist.
For now, we’ll focus on post-event surveys, and the reasons it’s important to send a well-constructed questionnaire.
Benefits of Post-Event Surveys
Apart from the obvious ability to make sure your guests were satisfied, post-event surveys offer a wide range of benefits. They help you:
- Engage your attendees and stakeholders in a way that makes them more likely to respond to future outreach and invites.
- Learn what worked and didn’t work so you can improve in the future.
- Find efficiencies that can save you time and money in the long run.
- Implement new ideas.
- Improve trust between your organization and your guests.
- Find out how successful your event was according to specific goals.
Put simply, the amount of feedback you get in a post-event survey is almost infinite, and if you spend a little time crafting your questions carefully you can get immediate, actionable feedback to use on future events.
Types of survey questions
The main types of survey questions fall into these categories:
Yes/No: A closed-answer question that tells you simply a yes or no answer. This is useful for getting specific answers on high-level questions.
Open-ended questions: These allow written responses and offer the opportunity for respondents to give you their honest opinions without constraints. These are useful for getting qualitative insights.
Comment boxes: A comment box differs from an open-ended question in that it doesn't necessarily ask anything. Instead, it’s a totally free text field for respondents to put any general feedback they want to add.
Rated or Ranked Questions: Rated questions often ask for a response on a scale – usually between five and 10. They help you get a more nuanced quantitative number you can use as a comparative metric later on.
Multiple choice: Like a rated question, a multiple-choice question helps you get looser and less constrained answers but while still controlling the data you collect. They let you maintain the scope of your question while still offering nuance in the data.
Each of these question types has a place. How you use them will determine what sort of information you can glean. Managing your mix of question types is one of many best practice tips for creating a post-event survey.
Best Practices for Event Surveys
It can be hard to get engagement on surveys at the best of times. After a large conference or event when attendees are tired or traveling is even worse. So how do you make sure your survey gets filled out? Some best practice tips include knowing:
When to send:
The best timeline is between 24 and 48 hours after the event. Too soon, and attendees are recovering or traveling, too late, and their recollection won’t be strong.
What incentives to offer:
Sometimes, you’ll get more engagement if you offer a prize or a discount for attendees who respond to post-event surveys. If you have a particularly large event or if you feel like the survey responses will be more valuable, it’s worth adding a small incentive. Be careful not to make the prize too compelling or you may find people responding with useless answers just to enter for the prize.
When to follow up?
It’s often a good idea to send a follow-up request for your members to complete the survey. This should go out 24-36 hours after your initial survey request. In those follow ups, include a personal note for the guest, so they know it’s their opinion you are looking for in particular. This can motivate people to respond more fully.
Length of survey:
A recent HubSpot survey showed that most people are only willing to spend 15 minutes or less completing a survey. With a combined total of 42% only willing to spend 1-10 minutes. That’s about 7 – 10 questions, depending on how complicated your survey is. This length allows you to get the most responses, with a good balance of fast and well-considered answers.
How to write questions:
Simple questions are easier and take less time to respond to than complicated questions. You have likely seen the “How true is this statement, rate from 1-5: The event was useful.” style of survey question. This is more complex than needed. A better way to structure it is to ask, “How useful was this event?” with multiple choice answers like “Very, Not very, Neutral”. The more straightforward your question, the more likely you are to get accurate responses and a better response rate.
How to Distribute Surveys
Options for distributing your survey vary from print to digital, and even telephone surveys. As always, each option has pros and cons.
Print surveys are easy to distribute because you can hand them out with any exit packs or gift bags, or even just hand them to your members as they leave your event. You’ll know who you’re giving surveys to. You can even add your survey to the welcome pack along with your conference badge holders and member name cards.
If you have a drop box for participants to return completed forms as they leave the venue or their hotel you might get a strong response rate, but may not be as effective if they have to mail in the form. Also, it’s hard to compile the results of these surveys. They’re best used for short, sharp, tick-box style surveys with yes or no, or multiple choice questions.
Calling participants after your event can add a personal touch, but the response rate isn’t always high, and sometimes phone calls feel intrusive. You’ll also need to record the calls in order to get the most accurate results, and compiling those answers is time consuming.
A web form sent out by email or even an email form are far more efficient and effective methods to send out post-event surveys. You’ll get statistics on open rates and response rates and compile the responses in an easy-to-access online portal. Most importantly, you’ll give your attendees a convenient way to answer your questions in their own time. Online surveys are more cost-effective and have better response rates than other formats.
Questions to Ask
As we said above, the best surveys will have between seven and 10 questions of varying types. Here’s a selection of post-event questions you can choose from depending on your needs.
Are you satisfied with your experience at this event?
This is the first and perhaps most important question to ask. It will give you a high-level understanding of the most basic question: Are guests happy?
You can ask this question of both stakeholders like vendors and event partners as well as attendees. It is best phrased as either a yes/no, or a ranked question from 1-5. Best practice would include a “Why/Why not” comment box.
Would you recommend this event to others?
This question is often used to create a net promoter score (NPS). By offering a rank of 1-10, guests can suggest how likely they are to recommend your event. Those who answer 9-10 are a promoter, anything from 7-8 are considered passive, or neutral, and anyone who answers 0-6 is a detractor.
Using this question to generate an NPS can give you a quantitative metric to compare to other events.
This question is relevant to both event partners and sponsors as well as attendees.
Was this event well structured?
You can use this question as a yes/no, or a rated question to get a sense of the overall architecture of your event and how it was received. You might also pivot this question to ask “how did you find the structure of our event?”.
Ask this of attendees to make sure they got everything they need. You might find answers that suggest a new format, or show that guests missed out on content due to scheduling conflicts.
It’s valuable to include a why/why not comment box for open-ended questions on this one as well.
How useful did you find this event?
We used this example earlier when talking about the best ways to structure questions. By asking it this way and offering a range of multiple-choice answers from “Not at all” to “Extremely” you can get a sense of sentiment. You can also easily convert those selections to a numerical value to blend the quantitative and qualitative data into a reportable format.
Ask this of event attendees.
Will you attend future events put on by [company]?
This question aimed at attendees is also good for volunteers, event sponsors, or vendors selling at your event. It gauges the success of your event from a high level. A why/why not box makes this question more valuable by offering more nuanced insight.
What did you hope to get out of this event? (develop skills/gain knowledge/networking/other)?
This is another good multiple-choice question for attendees and guests, or event partners and sellers. You can tweak the options available to suit each audience. This will also help validate your event marketing and format.
The answers to this might give you ideas for future events and topics as well.
Did this event meet your expectations?
Follow the question above up with this more generic question that gives you a sense of how well you met the needs of your members and guests. A yes/no here makes it easy to compile the results, but a why/why not comment box will help drill down into more actionable insights.
Why did you decide to attend this event?
A variation of the two questions above, this open-ended query lets you know what your attendees value about your event. You could also select multiple-choice answers like “networking opportunities”, “it looked fun”, “I wanted to see the new [product]” etc.
This is a particularly good question for new stakeholders or those who are peripherally related to your core business.
Rate this event on the following:
- Event timing
- Layout of the venue
- Date of the event
- Value for money
If you want quick, rapid-fire responses to specific elements on your event you can do a rated style question. Ask respondents to assess each of the elements of your event on a 1-5 or even 1-10 scale. The qualitative data you get here can be compared to other events, and also give a snapshot of what you did well, vs less well.
What would you describe as the biggest takeaway from our event?
If your event was a sales meeting or a training conference this question is a must-have. It will help you determine if your attendees got the key messages, and help you measure your goals for messaging and education. Ask this one of attendees using an open-ended style in a free-form comment box.
How helpful were the staff at the event?
Every event needs help. How your staff respond to attendees will impact their perception of your organization. Use this as a rated question, with an optional box for comments to find out if there was anything particularly good or negative that people experienced.
Did our event improve or weaken your impression of our organization?
Some events are all about community outreach, or thought leadership. If you launch an event hoping to engage with clients, this question will measure success. Like many of the questions here, you can structure it with a ranking system or multiple choice, and even add a comment box. It’s a good question for event guests as well as partners.
What would you improve about this event? / What would make the event better?
By asking for specific improvements you’re guiding your respondents to give their constructive feedback. This kind of “growth opportunity” question can improve the way your less happy members react to your event, while also giving you valuable feedback from stakeholders.
What did you enjoy most during our event?
An opportunity to spread positivity toward the end of your survey can help influence the overall impression of your event and organization in the eyes of its participants. It will also give you a sense of what went right, and what sort of content is most appealing. Ask this of any attendee, partner, or worker at your event via a free text box.
Which part of the event was most valuable for you?
This question and the one above are slightly different, in that the most enjoyable parts of an event aren’t always the most valuable. Here, you might get surprising answers, so it’s best to leave it to free text. For example, a guest might say “learning about the different workgroups within your organization” was the most valuable – which may trigger more content based on the different functional groups within your company.
As with many questions, this is useful feedback from both guests or members, and for groups like vendors or event sponsors.
What should we add more of to future events?
Asking for attendees' thoughts on this subject will help you ideate new content ideas or formats for new events.
Questions for Digital Events
You can ask any of the above questions for events of all kinds, but these ones are specifically targeted to online or virtual events. They include:
How satisfied were you with the event's digital features?
Finding out if your guests enjoyed or benefited from the digital format is important. This question does that. You should use a rated system to gain quantitative data.
Was it easy to log on?
This type of usability question will help you uncover any errors or issues you weren’t aware of during the operation of the meeting. You could add multiple-choice responses like: - Yes, very - Yes, once I figure it out - Not really - No, I had problems with your connection - No, I had problems with my computer
Would you prefer virtual or in-person meetings in the future?
Especially in the current era, many events are moving digital. You can determine if this move was the right one for your organization by polling guests after they attend a digital meeting.
Questions for Internal Stakeholders
As with digital events, your internal stakeholders and partners, as well as staff, your board, and even volunteers might have separate feedback to offer. Questions for these groups might include:
Would you partner with this event again in the future?
This question, specifically for event partners and vendors, will assess whether you delivered value for money. It can help determine the feasibility of your conference or meeting down the road. This question is a good candidate for a yes/no response, with a why/why not comment box that helps provide further insight.
How can we improve the event experience?
Stakeholders will likely have a lot of opinions to offer here, especially if they partnered with your organization’s event for business opportunities. Give them a large comment box to capture their thoughts with.
By giving staff the opportunity to give their thoughts, you might also capture unofficial responses they heard anecdotally during your event. Also, they’ll be more invested in the event’s success because your staff worked hard to make it all happen, so their insights will be particularly keen.
Comments often lead to meaningful improvements, like a switch to sustainable lanyards that helps improve the environmental footprint of an event and leads to a better public perception for the organization that made the move.
Do you consider this event a success? Why or why not?
Similar to the questions above and below, this seemingly straightforward question can help you see where or how you did well for your stakeholders. A yes/no followed by an optional comment box is the best format for this stakeholder question.
Did the event meet our objectives for our organization?
This is a very nuanced question, but it is one for your post-event analysis team to work on. This question will be informed by the post-event feedback surveys sent to guests and members, if you structured them well.
The final questions you ask should be the opportunity for respondents to give any feedback they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to provide. Possible finishing questions include:
How would you rate this event on a scale of 1-10?
This overarching question is another quantifiable way to measure overall customer satisfaction (CSAT) with your event. A good time to ask this question is right before the final open-ended question of your survey that asks for free-form feedback.
Please share any other feedback, ideas, or suggestions for future events
This is one of the most important questions you can ask, and it should be added to almost every survey, usually as the last question. The free-form format is a catch-all for your stakeholders and guests to give their honest and unfiltered or unguided views. This is where you’ll get some of the more surprising feedback. You might even find it’s where attendees leave their most positive feedback.
Ready to Survey?
These types of questions and the tips for post-event surveys will help you get the most effective feedback from your efforts and gauge attendee satisfaction. Remember, not all your feedback will be positive: That’s a good thing! Take the constructive feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow. You can incorporate this post-event feedback into your future event planning and make each one more successful than the last. For more conference and event inspiration and ideas visit our resource centre at ConferenceBadge.com.