The meeting might be over, but as the organizer, your job isn’t: A post-event debriefing can be one of the most valuable tools in your toolbox when it comes to building and refining best practices. As part of a broader Strategic Meetings Management Plan, the steps you take after a conference or other education series will put you on the right foot for starting out next time.
What to Ask, Who to Ask
Determining which key stakeholders you will need to report to is a key first step in any process that defines and measures performance, according to Betsey Bondurant, who will be moderating a panel at the CBI Pharma Forum 2018 next month about how to streamline SMMP to build and demonstrate value.
After you’ve determined who, you’ll need to list the top goals, KPIs or other metrics each group needs. There may be some overlap in what your sponsors, executive leaders and managers want to see, but some of the information they need is likely to be unique to that particular stakeholder cohort, and you don’t want to overlook it.
There are two main groups of people from whom you’ll need to gather and evaluate feedback, says Bethany Smith at Event Manager blog: The ones who helped make it happen, and the ones who experienced the end result. In the first bucket should be the venue, their in-house suppliers, your own vendors partners, and of course, your own team. The second group consists of your attendees or any other target audience groups (say, sponsors or exhibitors).
The Team Huddle
Meeting with your team, the venue and other parties in that first category should take place as soon after the event as possible. An in-person sit-down before departing the property is the most effective way to conduct this, since having all parties in the room at once eliminates any communication glitches that might have presented a challenge.
Once you reconcile the master folio and other associated costs, you can circle back with the benefits of your notes from that first meeting and identify any areas where management or spending can be streamlined for the next time.
Asking Your Audience
Ideally, gathering feedback from your HCP attendees can begin during the event itself via app-based live polling and surveys. Follow up with a post-event survey that includes the opportunity for them to write in answers — a task that will be easier when they’re in front of a desktop computer in their office. Collecting this quantitative information is more labor-intensive, but it’s valuable as a window into what your target audience really thinks — and it also provides potential material for testimonials you can share with your management or board to augment more quantitative ROI data.
Other Information Sources
Don’t forget to review your on-site notes and incorporate those observations, says Allison Magyar, CEO of event management software firm Hubb. This will give you some qualitative context that will be helpful interpreting any data pertaining to your key performance indicators collected during the event.
It’s highly likely that your eventual ROI determination will include metrics that won’t be available right away. For results such as sales conversions, contracts signed or prescriber behavior, scheduling a quarterly or year-end check-in should be a part of your debriefing process.
Bondurant recommends that life sciences meeting planners add an additional step to this evaluation process: Build compliance metrics into your SMMP, and use your post-event debriefing to determine how well you achieved those metrics. This is an especially important priority as planners, HCPs and life sciences all adjust to the practical impact of the new GDPR regulation out of the E.U.
It’s understandable that after completing a big program, the prospect of more work is probably daunting. But building a comprehensive debriefing practice will go a long way towards achieving your goals and proving your value to your higher-ups.
Matthew Derner, Global Director, Strategic Meetings Management, AHM
Matthew joined AHM in 2016 and has 18 years of Life Sciences experience. He leads AHM’s Stragetic Meetings Management (SMM) Department and is responsible for engaging current and prospective clients about our SMM compliant meeting solutions across their organizations. Matthew also leads a team of Event Managers & Coordinators that are responsible for the planning and execution of any meeting type outside of Speaker Bureau. Prior to joining AHM, Matthew has worked for Pharmaceutical Companies as well meeting planning agencies in various roles.