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Increasing Survey Responses for Conference Workshops

13 Nov

I wIncrease Workshop Feedbackas a little disappointed in the amount of feedback I received after presenting at a recent national grant conference. The conference organizers had switched to all electronic feedback forms.

Using electronic forms to capture workshop or class feedback has its benefits. The number one benefit may be that it decreases data entry time for the conference organizers.

But moving away from paper feedback forms can easily decrease your responses rate, as I saw. You must then pay extra attention to the ways you encourage and motivate your session attendees to give formal feedback.

Here is a simple-to-follow plan that you could use to increase feedback after your next conference, workshop, or class.

Build time into the schedule

When you create your schedule, make sure to mark specific five minute blocks after each session for feedback. It might look like this:

  • 8:00 Registration and refreshments
  • 8:30 Session 1
  • 9:15-Feedback forms open for Session 1
  • 9:30 Session 2
  • 10:15 Feedback forms open for Session 2
  • 10:20 Networking block
  • 11:00 Plenary Session
  • 12:00 Feedback forms open for Plenary Session
  • etc.

Announce the feedback forms

Additionally, if you have room monitors of any kind, make it an important part of their job to announce to the conference attendees that the time to give feedback is now, immediately after each session. Announce it before people leave.

If you don’t have room monitors, write up a short script for each presenter and build it into their duties to announce the feedback forms. It is for their benefit!

Send scheduled emails to the attendees

To pull this all together, use your email service to create scheduled emails to send five minutes before the scheduled end of each session. This way your room monitor or presenter can tell the attendees at the end of the session to check their inbox and fill out the feedback form while still sitting in the session.

For certain, a service like Mailchimp has this feature and can help you make your conference or workshop look super organized.

Advanced method – Create Pre-filled URLs for forms

If you use a service like Google Forms (which is free), you can create pre-filled forms by building special URLs (links). This makes things easier for the user so that she/he can click the link of his/her session instead of clicking a general link and then struggling to find their session from a drop down list. Try these examples below:

Clicking on any of these will allow you to go directly to the form with the session you clicked already filled in. This type of list is what would go in your scheduled email.

Conclusion – Improving conference or workshop feedback response rates

Using just these few simple methods can increase your conference or workshop feedback rates. It takes a bit of planning ahead but will be well worth the effort.

As always, if you have any questions or would like help implementing any of these ideas, please contact me by filling out the form below. Or, email me at michael.e.roman@gmail.com. Thanks!

Bonus Idea

For each feedback question, create a conference-wide benchmark to give to your presenters along with their individual feedback. Just giving a presenter his/her individual feedback won’t give him/her a sense of how they compared to other presenters across the conference.

Ask me a question about your feedback forms

Successful Leaders Don’t Focus on All the Details

4 Sep

What if a leader’s job is to look at most things out of focus?Leaders Don't Focus on All the Details

Typically, we think leaders should have a strong vision, focus on that vision, and help others focus on that vision.

But what if a leader’s job is to keep most things slightly out of focus?

When we hear words like micromanagement, isn’t that an indication that the particular leader doing the micromanagement has gotten too focused on some particular details of the organization? This leader would better serve the organization by bringing a situation slightly more into focus but not making it crystal clear. She or he should keep most things at an arm’s length, slightly out of focus.

This does not mean that someone else in the organization shouldn’t be focused or even hyper-focused on any particular situation’s details. This is why you have many people serving in different roles in the organization. Everyone is paying attention to different details.

Key Differences between Successful and Unsuccessful Leaders

But leaders need to separate the details important to them from all the rest. Leaders need to become comfortable with letting others manage details in areas out of the leader’s focus.

I suspect this is a key difference between successful and unsuccessful leaders. Successful leaders focus on only the most important details and let others manage the rest. Successful leaders have mastered the art of being comfortable with viewing many parts of the organization slightly out of focus.

3 Opportunities You Are Missing to Provide Value

17 Feb

Why Are People Trying to Provide “Value” by Asking What Others Want?3 Opportunities You Are Missing to Provide Value

Value-making seems to be a full time profession for many people. Everywhere you go there is somebody insisting that they are trying to provide value for their customers, their clients, their company. But what is the value they are trying to provide? People don’t seem to know. Why do I think they don’t know? Because they’re sending out too many surveys. They are constantly talking about value and constantly asking others about value, but they never define value. They value value, but don’t know what it is!?!

Value Is Generic

Value is really a generic catch-all phrase. It’s non-specific. It doesn’t tell me anything about what you do, what you think you should do, or what you want to do. Instead, you sound like everybody else when you talk about value. Do you really need a survey to tell you that people value great customer service? Or timely delivery? Or competitive prices? No, these things are generally a given, though some people will value one more than the other. These values are also generic. Most organizations have these very same values and make promises based on these values.

Problem 1: Organizations Don’t Really Listen

I don’t think people are really listening to the answers their customers, clients, or partners might be giving them about what they value. They’re not listening because the things being said aren’t direct answers. Instead, the answers exist in other interactions.

3 Opportunities to Listen and Provide Value to Customers

  1. For example, when I call any type of customer service line, I expect to get my question answered quickly and professionally. And everybody, including me, thinks their question is unique. No one believes their question is exactly the same as someone else’s question. So why is it so rare to get a real person on the line when you call customer service? Clearly these organizations don’t care about what I really want. But I bet I’ll get a follow-up survey asking me how the phone call went. Instead of this survey, why not have a real conversation with me when I call? Why not listen?
  2. When I’m checking out in a physical store, why doesn’t the cashier listen to what I have to say about my shopping experience?
  3. When I check out online, why doesn’t someone call me to help me through when I’m having trouble? Imagine that level of service.

Problem 2: Value Doesn’t Easily Scale

But these ideas are somewhat of a pipedream because these things many people value don’t easily scale. Amazon can’t scale that level of service to call any customer having trouble checking out online. They’ve already attempted to solve that problem with one-click shopping. Facebook can’t call you when you encounter a log-in issue. Target isn’t suddenly going to have their cashiers strike up a conversation about my shopping experience. Why? It wouldn’t scale well. The utility company, cable company, and so many others aren’t going to get rid of their artificial intelligence operators (standing by, but no real problem-solving skills). It doesn’t scale well.

4 Ways to Scale Value

First, listen in all the interactions you might have with a customer. Don’t have the interaction and then send a survey as a proxy for listening. If you send the survey after the fact, I don’t think you were ever really listening in the first place. Second, be proactive in problem areas. How can you help a customer solve a problem before he/she calls you? Call them first instead. Third, think of every other way you can listen without surveys and pursue those listening opportunities first. Fourth, give all employees the ability and authority to act immediately on whatever they are hearing from customers. Addressing issues after the fact (discovering them through a survey) is hardly ever as good as responding in the moment.

Conclusion: Value People

People want to be valued. Don’t wait to define your values based on surveys. Start first with valuing your customers as people.Constantly act on expected values by listening during conversations and solving problems proactively. If you do these things, you may find that you can say “You’re welcome” more often as customers thank you for your value-based based interactions.

Management Philosophy: Things I Don’t Believe

6 Jun

My management philosophy?Management Philosophy- Things I DON't Believe
Here are some things I don’t believe:

I don’t believe in productivity, whether it’s demanding it or measuring it.

I don’t believe in yearly evaluations.

I don’t believe in excuses.

I don’t believe that people prepare well enough for most meetings and I don’t believe that most people treat meetings as if they are important.

I don’t believe in treating customers better than employees or providing better customer service to customers than employees.

I don’t believe that every meeting needs to stick to the exact agenda, especially if that becomes an easy way to avoid conflict or tough questions.

I don’t believe in skill sets.

I definitely don’t believe in skill sets.

I don’t believe age is an indicator of ability.

I don’t believe experience is necessary (though often helpful).

I don’t believe in hiding facts.

I don’t believe in ignoring facts.

I don’t believe that one person’s facts are enough to conclude the truth of the matter.

I don’t believe 100% is ever attainable, thus I don’t believe in launching when things are 100% ready.

I don’t believe in striving for less than 100%.

I don’t believe in management philosophies.

What don’t you believe?

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