Evaluation forms are great. There’s something really nice about mulling through a pile of them after a meeting, having a look at what people wrote. It’s also good to have audio-only copies of your presentations, so you can listen back to them to see where you went wrong. And you can get friends to listen back to them as well to give you feedback. (I figure that if you can’t listen to the audio of a presentation and still get a lot out of it, then there are probably ways you could improve your presentation)
But Mitch Denny recently blogged about his frustration at them, and I know why too! The Ready Summit event went around Australia this month, coming to Adelaide a couple of days ago. We weren’t the last venue, that was Canberra. And the way they did evaluation forms was kinda strange. Towards the end of each presentation, the presenter would say “Please fill out your evaluation forms” (which were given out to people as they arrived by conference centre staff), and then people would go around collecting them. They’d go into an envelope, and the presenter would pick one out to win a prize. Later, presumably someone goes through them all (and this is quite a lot… several sessions in the day, and a large conference-room full of people) and enters them into a database.
Wouldn’t it be easier to use Dave Glover’s SMS voting application? Then people could send in their eval form info in a particular format, with extra information as required. This goes into a database which replicates back to the main server… everyone wins.
Talking to Mitch on MSN Msgr, he’s thinking that a thumbs up/down idea would work. People press one of two buttons on their way out, to say if it was good or bad. I think perhaps this wouldn’t give enough detail, and lots of people just wouldn’t bother. Giving the prize out helps with that, but if people are SMSing their votes in throughout the session, then it’s very easy to have a random mobile number picked out of the database.
Actually, the key is to have something different as often as possible. That way, you catch the attendees imagination.