Monitoring and Evaluation

Having worked hard to plan and deliver your event, it is worth investing some time in evaluating how well your event ran. To do this, you need to find a way of monitoring your event to observe what went well, and what could be improved for next time. This will help you improve your skills as an event organiser, and the quality of your event for your audience.

Monitoring

There can be a dizzying amount of tasks to be kept track of when planning an event, particularly if it is a sizable undertaking. It is vitally important that you make a note of what needs to be done and by when. You are going to need a comprehensive list of what needs to be done and to be able to check on its progress. It is also a great opportunity to ensure that work is being done to a satisfactory standard.

One of the favoured methods for monitoring progress is to employ the use of a spreadsheet such as in Microsoft Excel. Using this method you can see a list of tasks that need to be completed, possibly displayed in chronological (date) order. For each task you can add a column (or field) indicating the date it needs to be completed by, another showing who is responsible for (or taking ownership of) the task, details of what is required and another indicating what progress has been made and when. You could also colour code the entries using a traffic light system with red indicating a high priority task, amber indicating moderate urgency and green indicating low priority. 
Consider printing a copy of the spreadsheet every Monday and use it as a guide for the coming week. This can easily be emailed to others working on the project or interested parties.

There are also an ever increasing number of software tools available to aid productivity and organisation. Some take the form of an electronic personal organiser where documents can be stored, meetings planned and deadlines set with reminders. You may even find a suitable piece of free software through a share-ware site or an app store. Others are stand alone pieces of software which are tailor made for planning events and project management. An internet search for “project management software” or “event planning software” will yield a wealth of suitable results.
 Remember, just like diaries and loose bits of paper, data can go missing so make regular back-ups of any work you do on a computer.

Evaluation

You and those involved will work hard to make your event a success, but how will you know if it has been? It is important that in the planning stages of your event you conceive a set of measures by which you can evaluate the level of success you have achieved. The results should not be viewed as a direct judgement on yourself or your abilities. Valuable lessons can be learned through effective evaluation and viewed constructively can improve any subsequent performances and streamline your efforts, saving both time and very often your precious budget.

An event that doesn’t quite go to plan shouldn’t be viewed as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow your event accordingly.
 You should make every attempt to record details of your event (good or bad) while it is happening as it is easy to forget these details later. Time also has the habit of distorting these recollections as it passes. The easiest way to do this is to make notes and take pictures. It is worth asking a few people to do the same as each of you will have a slightly different perspective. Another tried and tested method that requires little time or budget to instigate is the anonymous comment box where people who attended can give you there feedback.

In broad terms evaluation can be separated into two distinct groups; quantity and quality.

Quantity

Is factual and largely based on figures i.e. number of people attending, money generated or contacts made. This can be measured using methods such as head counts, financial reports and surveys.

Quality

Is more subjective and based on opinions and observations. This data can be gathered using interviews, small group discussions (also known as focus groups), comments boxes and observations.

Men and women of a variety of ages should be asked to contribute, attendees and non-attendees from the local community, local business owners and event staff are all suitable subjects from which to gather information.

Aside from giving you valuable insight into your own event, its success and the people who attended it, your event evaluation can serve another valuable purpose. Your current as well as potential future sponsors and partners will want you to demonstrate through your evaluation that you event achieved its and their objectives. Proving to your sponsors/partners that it was beneficial for them to be associated with your event will encourage them to continue their relationship with you during future events and attract new sponsors.

Audiences London- Researching Audiences at Outdoor Events

Measuring and evidencing the impact of an outdoor event can be harder than with other artforms, because of often widespread locations and the fact that many such events are unticketed. Audiences London have produced a new set of guidelines for audience research at outdoor events, designed specifically to support the unprecedented activities and opportunities of 2012. You can download this guide in the Downloads section.