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Questions for a Successful Event Debrief

Last updated December 21st, 2021
Event Debrief

An event isn’t over until it’s long over. Even once the event itself is complete and guests have gone home, there is still work to do.

The debrief is one of many follow up activities you will have to manage, along with feedback, reviews, post-event marketing and a number of other tasks.

Let’s stick with that first task, the debrief meeting.

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What is the event debrief and what’s the purpose?

The event debrief is your opportunity to assess how the event went and gather feedback on issues, risks and lessons learned.

It’s a meeting with your team that provides the opportunity to discuss the event. What went well, what could have gone better, particular highlights, particular low points, oversights and learning opportunities.

It should include a relaxed discussion among colleagues rather than a formal meeting, but having an agenda and series of questions to be answered will help.

It’s that final point we’re discussing here.

What questions need to be answered in an event debrief meeting?

What questions to ask in an event debrief meeting

We’re going to outline some of the main questions we tend to ask at an event debrief meeting.

We don’t always ask the same questions at every debrief. We tend to choose the most relevant and go with those.

Time is still limited even after the event!

Here are some key debriefing questions we often ask.

What were our event goals and did we meet them?

This is one of the most important questions. What were those original goals we set, or had set for us, at the beginning? Most importantly, did we meet or exceed them?

This question is arguably the most important here. Goals relate directly to client satisfaction, attendee satisfaction and, therefore, our own satisfaction in a job well done.

Did we come in on budget?

Did we come in on budget? Did we go over? Were there areas that required more investment? Do we need to adjust projections in any areas for next time?

Budgeting questions will vary depending on the event type but there will always be questions around money.

What were the successes of the event?

What went well? What were some key moments? What did the client or stakeholder particularly love? Did anything stand out in particular?

It’s important to celebrate the wins and record them for future use. The more we build success into how we work, the more successful events will be.

Plus, giving thanks where thanks is due is also a key part of an event debrief.

What do sponsors/stakeholders consider the successes of the event?

If the sponsor or stakeholder is/are present or have given feedback, what do they consider success? Did we meet their expectations? Did we exceed them? Did we deliver what we promised?

We need to make sure we delivered the right tone, style and quality of event for all stakeholders and sponsors. Feedback is a key way to find out.

Were there any significant problems encountered?

Were there any significant problems encountered? Were there any big issues that got in the way of delivering an awesome event? Could we or should we have foreseen them? Is there anything we can do to prevent it happening again?

This is part of the lessons learned process. Analysing any significant roadblocks or issues that got in the way.

Were there any significant problems beyond our control?

Were any problems encountered beyond our control? Did weather or climate play a part? Were there issues we can mitigate against or develop a coping structure to manage better?

This is a harder question to answer as problems beyond your control are often exactly that. Yet a little brainstorming can often develop ways to manage such issues.

Did staff deliver as expected?

Did all the staff turn up? Were they adequately trained and prepared for the event? Did they have everything they needed to do their job? What was the employee feedback after the event?

Manpower is one of the toughest parts of event management and making sure everyone had what they needed is a key component of that.

Did vendors and partners deliver what they promised?

Did suppliers, vendors, partners and supporters deliver on their promises? Was the quantity and quality up to scratch? Were there any significant issues with providers? Would we use those partners again?

This helps build and refine your list of preferred suppliers. You can whittle out those that don’t deliver and keep those that do.

For vendors – Did the event and/or venue meet your needs?

Did the specification paint an accurate picture of the event? Did you have the information you needed to deliver on your promises? Did staff have everything required?

These questions can be asked at the main debrief meeting or a separate vendor meeting. Either way, you need to know any lessons learned from vendors and partners so you can plan for them next time.

What do we need to do differently at the next event?

What lessons do we need to learn? What do we need to plan for that we didn’t? What risks do we need to mitigate against? How do we adapt and overcome to perform better next time?

Another core question for a debrief meeting. Lessons learned is a core facet of event management. Every event is different but this is a career where we are constantly changing, evolving and trying to do things better.

We’re sure you can come up with more questions to ask at a debrief meeting, but you get the idea.

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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