Ask 10 team members about the top goals they hope to achieve after hosting an event, and you’ll get 10 different answers. Although some folks are most interested in growing sales pipelines, others care more about discovering new opportunities, increasing registrations, and driving brand awareness. With so many competing priorities, it can be difficult to assess whether an event is truly a success for the company.
But it’s not impossible. The best way to analyze the overall performance of an event is to round up your stakeholders for an event debrief meeting. Whether you’re hosting an in-person webinar, a trade show, or an internal meet-up, an event debrief must be a vital part of your event strategy.
Keep reading to learn more about event debriefs, how to debrief an event, and some key questions to ask.
What is an event debrief?
An event debrief is a post-event follow-up meeting where team leaders analyze the show’s performance and compare results. In general, event debriefs should be held as soon as possible after an event ends. This way, you can discover and capitalize on opportunities and close out the event on a strong note when the experience is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Since team members will be eager to hit the ground running after a multi-day event that pulls them away from daily engagements, ensuring your debriefs are streamlined is essential. Time is precious, after all.
To do that, it’s vital only to ask necessary questions and get straight to the point. At the same time, you’ll want to include actionable items in these meetings to optimize post-event execution.
What should you include in your event debrief?
Debrief meetings allow you to squeeze all the proverbial juice out of the event and collect meaningful information. As you go through the meeting, focus on these key points.
Goals, Objectives, and KPIs
Before the meeting, consolidate your event metrics and extract key data points. That way, during the debrief meeting, your team can explore event KPIs like attendee check-ins, surveys, and session analytics. At the same time, you’ll want to identify new leads from the event.
It’s also essential to identify your top achievements from the event, both to celebrate wins and benchmark progress. To accomplish this, look at figures like total registrants, attendees, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), and attendee satisfaction (via NPS scores). You’ll also want to know how much annual recurring revenue (ARR) was generated from the event.
Industry demographics constantly shift, as companies, customer groups, and teams are highly dynamic and change by the day. In light of this, reviewing attendee demographics and updating your databases is always a good idea. This way, you can keep tabs on who’s attending your events and ensure your marketing and planning efforts target those groups effectively.
Tracking demographic data also helps with diversity and inclusion planning. For example, you may discover that your team needs to better connect with underrepresented communities and ethnic groups ahead of your next event.
Top Companies and Industries
Any time you plan an event like a live conference, trade show, or webinar, you always hope to attract the most lucrative companies and buyers. As such, it pays to determine which companies showed up or expressed interest so you can figure out whom to engage after the event.
In addition, you should also pay attention to which verticals were interested in the event. For example, a cloud computing conference may draw interest from cybersecurity providers, managed service providers (MSPs), enterprises, and small businesses. This information can also help inform future outreach and strategy.
After your event, deeply dive into event engagement metrics and try to understand what interests and motivates attendees. For example, according to Markletic, 66% of event organizers claim live sessions lead to higher audience engagement and overall event success. However, sometimes sessions can flop and fail to generate interest.
Analyzing participant data and audience engagement metrics can shed light on how people respond to different types of content. It also helps to compare registration data to event check-ins and explore sponsor and exhibitor booth scans. You can leverage all of this data to enhance your event strategy for the future.
Be sure to look into your marketing performance and explore the success of your pre-event and in-event emails, social posts, content, and advertisements. Analyzing marketing performance can help you discover important trends and insights to inform future campaigns and strategies. It can also reveal your most engaging channels and communities.
Return on Event (ROE)
At the end of the day, money talks. During a debrief meeting, one of the most critical tasks is to analyze your return on event (ROE) metrics and compare them to your target goal.
Remember that generating a realistic ROE on your event may take some time — especially for hybrid events. Markletic’s report says that 86% of B2B organizations achieve a positive ROE for their hybrid events seven months after the event date.
What questions should you ask during an event debrief?
To help you save time and increase the chances your subsequent debrief is a successful use of time, here are 12 questions to consider asking your event team:
- What was the planning process like? What were the challenges, and what were the successes?
- How was the overall success of the event?
- What worked well? What didn’t?
- How did we do against our budget?
- What should we keep doing for future events?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What did attendees think of the event experience?
- Did the event’s format (hybrid, virtual, in-person) impact the experience?
- How did this event compare to your last event (or how did this flagship event compare to your last flagship event)?
- How was attendee engagement, registrations, and sponsorship engagement compared to past events?
- How did our event management software help/hinder our event success?
- How did our team perform during the event?
If you’re looking for templated kits with built-in debrief questions, check out our resource page for all our in-person, virtual, hybrid, and webinar event production kits.
What else can you do to achieve event success?
As you can see, the debrief meeting is a significant part of your event. Even so, marketing leaders often struggle to execute debrief meetings. Asking pointless questions or framing them incorrectly can frustrate team members, wasting time and hurting morale.
As you plan your next event debrief, ensure you approach the conversation correctly and ask the right questions. For the definitive list of event survey questions, read our article: “51 Event Survey Questions You Should Ask Attendees.”