When working as a volunteer, staying within my wheelhouse of skills and capabilities is generally where I roam. Event planning is one of the services I provide my clients and this year, I volunteered to organize, coordinate and run an annual community parade.

I took this seriously from the beginning. This included setting up a Google form so registration would be easy for participants and it would compile all the information into a spreadsheet for my use. Having collected contact information, staying in touch was easy, and on the day of the parade, things went smoothly from beginning to end. The only hiccup? Rain!

Despite the rain, once the parade was over, I had a level of pride as I heard compliments from both parade-goers and float units.

Coming from the business world and having run many events in the past, it made sense to create a post-event survey to gather the thoughts of both participants and observers. How else does one do better the next go-around unless honest feedback is shared?

Sharing the comments, concerns and criticisms with the parade committee, I was asked why in the world did I send out a survey, and why do people simply complain rather than offer constructive ideas?

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As much as the survey contained negative comments, such as complaints about political parties being allowed in the parade, or the rain, it also contained ideas to make the parade better next year.

The purpose of a post-event survey is “to identify positive and negative practices with a view to improving future performance, whether this is in terms of financial performance, environmental impacts or the overall operation of the event.”

Writing a survey can be daunting, so here are some ideas for questions.

General feedback questions could include:

  • Did the event you attended meet your objectives?
  • What could the organizers have done differently?
  • Was the location, food, vendor line up, etc., suitable?
  • Would you participate or attend this event again?
  • If yes, would you recommend the event to a friend or coworker?
  • Overall, how satisfied with this event were you?
  • What was your favorite part of this event?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how the event could be improved?

Questions in regard to speakers at an event include:

  • Was the topic covered as suggested by its title?
  • Was the speaker engaging?
  • What topics would you like to hear about at future events?

There are different types of questions to include, so keep a mix in your questions.

Rating scale: Measures the level of agreement; it is best to use a 5-point scale to avoid skewing.

Multiple choice: This type of question is useful when more than one option is a viable answer.

Open-ended: Allows people to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas in a paragraph/text form.

Keep this last important point in mind: people are more apt to complete a shorter survey than a longer one. So, keep it to no more than 10 questions. When it comes to distribution, get the link up on social media, send it in emails and post on your website. The more visible it is, the more responses you will get.

In closing, I highly recommend doing a post-event survey for any event you organize, coordinate or run. Take the results to heart as well as to your committee or helpers so you can replicate the success, learn from the challenges and improve your next event.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com.