Conference organizers who utilize education as a differentiator or value driver require feedback for continuous improvement and growth. The four most significant obstacles with session evaluations are:  

1. Poor return rates

2. Little to no qualitative responses

3. Reliance on Likert scale averages (scientifically proven to be unreliable)

4. Peer review that has become too nice

To expedite collection and tabulation, many conferences have moved away from paper evaluations, and switched to app or Web-based solutions. Most have seen a decrease in digital responses versus the old method. As a knee-jerk reaction, the number of survey questions have been cut back to encourage more responses.

The solution you utilize doesn’t matter. The two most critical changes conference organizers should consider are:  

• coaching speakers and moderators to stop five minutes early. Make them accountable for getting at least a 50 percent return rate.

• going beyond the smile-sheet evaluation by crafting questions that make respondents think.

There is no magic evaluation template that fits everyone’s needs. Work to craft results-based questions that complement your learning strategy.