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A challenge to anyone who organizes an event

by Adrian Segar

Here’s a simple challenge to anyone who organizes events and asks for evaluations.

(You do ask for evaluations, don’t you? Here’s how to get great event evaluation response rates.)

Publish your complete, anonymized evaluations.

You may want to restrict access to the people who attended the event.

That would be good.

You may decide to publish your evaluations publicly, as we just did for EventCamp East Coast 2011, and as we did a year ago for EventCamp East Coast 2010.

That’s even better.

If you believe in your event, and want to make it better, why not be transparent about the good, the bad, and the ugly?

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  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    I think publishing all comments has pros and cons. Some people are just plain negative and why post these comments that will sway others not to come? if they don’t represent the overall feel of the event they don’t really help.
    on the other hand, if you post them and someone sees their comment missing, they will be event more upset!  Hmm.
    I have seen a conference planner edit out negative comments on my speaker evaluations ( i got two copies)- when i noticed the discrepancy I called her and she said didn’t feel like the negative comments had any value. She didn’t want me to take the sting away as a reflection of the overall evaluations and put a damper on it. i told her i could stomach the criticism.

    I lean toward posting all comments good and bad and let readers decide what is relevant or not.

    • http://www.segar.com Adrian Segar

      Jody, thanks for your comments. Yes, some people are just plain negative, though there are also some that won’t say anything negative. But I believe that when we publish everything, readers are capable of making their own evaluations of the collected group of comments which usually include a weighted judgement of outrider viewpoints. Think about reviews on Amazon, where you sometimes see viewpoints that focus on a minor aspect of a product, or where the reviewer seemed just to be having a bad day.

      I agree with you that if you’re going to provide speaker evaluations, you should provide everything submitted. Deleting negative comments is not helpful, whether you agree with them or not. In general I get very good evaluations of my workshops and presentations, but invariably there’s someone in the audience for whom the session was not valuable. It’s good to know what everyone who took the time to respond thinks.

  • William

    Hi Adrian,

    I am not sure of the value that this would add. Who benefits from this? Most organisers are big enough
    to take comments, feedback and criticism: it’s unprepared speakers I’d feel sorry
    for. We haven’t paid the speakers, they haven’t been briefed properly, we
    haven’t structured and themed the content. I think organisers have a duty of
    care with their speakers. We should work harder to make sure that when we open
    up comments our speakers only get good marks.

    • http://www.segar.com Adrian Segar

      Hi William. you ask “Who benefits from [publishing complete anonymized evaluations]?”

      Everyone. Not only those who organized and attended the event, but, if you make the results public, people who weren’t there too. Shared evaluations do three things; they allow participants to check their experience against others’ (rather than wondering if they are the only people who think the emperor has no clothes), they provide concrete evidence of the event’s successes and failures (great for learning), and they keep organizers honest. Perhaps the last reason is why shared evaluations are so rarely used.

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