Anyone who is working on an educational program recognizes that it’s important to develop a speaker evaluation form to measure the effectiveness of the overall program or an individual break out session. This is something that challenges meeting and event planners, and it’s a step that many would like to overlook.
However, a good speaker evaluation form can be used as an important tool to measure the effectiveness of a given program, and it can be used as a tool the measure the contribution that a meeting has on an organization’s objectives.
Perhaps the biggest challenge associated with creating a speaker evaluation form is to format it so that it’s easy to complete. Although most attendees expect to complete an evaluation, it’s helpful to remember that they are usually more interested in leaving a session immediately when it concludes.
Recognizing this challenge, provide some sort of incentive to have attendees complete the form. This is an opportunity for the planner to have some fun and reinforce the company, and may include promotional items from the organization or even gift certificates.
Elements of a Speaker Evaluation Form
The most important item that meeting planners should consider when developing a speaker evaluation form is the importance of keeping the form brief (one page). Some tips include:
- Provide clear, brief instructions at the top.
- List the session name and speaker on the form.
- Measure the effectiveness in a maximum of five options.
- Ask if the session objectives were met.
- Ask if the session was perceived as valuable.
- Ask an open ended question for more information.
- Keep the form optionally anonymous.
- Ask if there’s any interest in follow up contact.
To be sure, feedback on evaluation forms will be subjective, as the comments are based on many personal factors of who is responding.
For example, those who attend a given program will likely be at different levels of professional experience with a given topic, and that will impact how they respond. Their feedback may also vary based on different expectations of a program before attending.
Sample Speaker Evaluation Form
“We ask the all of our speakers provide us with learning outcomes for their sessions, which we print in the program with our session descriptions, explains Marsha Mardock, NSA spokesperson. “Then we ask our attendees to measure the success of the session against the learning outcomes.”
Specific questions include:
- Please rate how well this session’s learning objectives were met?
- What value did you receive from this session?
- What is the best idea you heard in this session that you plan to use?
NSA was established in 1973 and is a leading organization for professional speakers, providing resources and education designed to advance the skills, integrity and value of the speaking profession.
Summarize Session Evaluation Form Results
Once the evaluation forms are collected, event organizers should compile the results into a report that summarizes all the results. This includes information about speaker ratings in the various categories measured, as well as the comments themselves.
Such reports are used to measure how effectively a seminar or conference session met the needs of the audience, and what may be improved in the future. Motivational speaker Pegine Echevarria of Team Pegine Inc., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, suggests that meeting planners tally results into a report called an After Action Report (see sample).
”’We learned this from the military,” Pegine explains. “Everyone in the Army writes an After Action Report to share with their superiors, including what worked, what didn’t and solutions for improvement after each project or task. We provide the same. The reports include not only the audience results but information from my speaking & consulting experience.”
After Action Report
This report provides more information than a speaker session evaluation. It’s an evaluation of the program itself, including the planning process. Pegine provides an After Action Report after each speaking engagement. “My clients know about the report before each event and they love receiving it after, it is an added value to them.” She answers questions for meeting planners, including:
- What did they do well?
- What could have been done differently?
- What ideas do I have for future events?
Walter Reed Army Medical Center outlines its After Action Report guidelines for planning educational programs with speakers. Information is presented in a report/table format, and the summary includes the following elements:
- Activity overview
- Activity content
- Guest speakers
- Planning process
- Activity materials
- Evaluation forms
- Activity administration
- Budget data