an event speaker holding a survey on a clipboard

Speaker Surveys: Considering Feedback From Your Events

Surveying your event speakers can improve the experience for them at future events, which will develop your association’s reputation as a worthy host so you can attract the best talent.

You know about preparing speakers for association gatherings. And it’s customary to get event feedback from attendees and sponsors. But some organizations may not think to gauge how their speakers felt about their events. Associations that don’t seek speaker feedback are missing a chance to better connect speakers with their audience in the future — and they won’t know if speakers are getting the support they need from attendees and event hosts, argues Kara Dao, chief operating officer at JDC Events.

“It’s about getting quality speakers to return, but it’s also about serving the community at large in terms of engagement,” she said. “There needs to be an overarching connection between speaker and members. A speaker can’t engage well if they don’t have an audience that’s engaging back.”

Consider these tips from Dao to put together a speaker survey that provides actionable information.

Consider Your Audience When Crafting Questions

When structuring your survey, think about the people you’re giving it to.

“Engineers want the rating; they don’t want to write something,” Dao said. “But philosophers want to write something and don’t want to turn their thoughts into a number.”

JDC Events’ survey includes a mix of questions. Some ask for a rating from 1 to 5. Others may ask for open-ended, detailed responses, such as “What improvements would you suggest for the program?” or “Please provide any additional feedback or suggestions about this session.” This way, the organization has both qualitative and quantitative information to work with.

Focus on the Speaker Experience—and Keep It Simple

Dao recommended crafting straightforward questions that illustrate whether speakers had a worthwhile experience and got what they needed from those who facilitated the event. Among other questions, JDC Events’ speaker survey [ASAE member login required] includes the following:

How satisfied were you with audience participation at the event? “The speaker needs affirmation that the audience was interested and it was worth the speaker’s time,” Dao said.

How satisfied are you with the communication and preparation you received from JDC Events? “Speakers need communications that guide them through the process so they can be successful,” Dao said. “You need to know if you communicated correctly and prepared them.”

Dao said it’s also important to ask for feedback on the event’s moderators or emcees, as they’re responsible for keeping things running smoothly, which affects a speaker’s experience.

Follow Up With a Meaningful Call to Action

Dao said JDC Events sends an email after an event that includes a link to a survey on a platform such as SurveyMonkey or Microsoft Forms. In that email, the organization communicates why the survey is valuable rather than promoting survey participation with rewards such as gift cards. “Please respond to this so we’ll know if we’re doing a good job at delivering you the audience you want,” for example. Dao added, “I’m going to respond to the call to action that matters.”

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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