As meeting planners we always ask our attendees to complete evaluations. We ask them how the content was, how they liked the speakers, the food, the venue. That feedback – that data – is important in a strive for continuous improvement.
Equally important is to ask your team to evaluate the meeting. Do you sit down and do this? A good tool for this a “plus/delta” chart. It’s easy to do – put two columns on a flipchart – on the left list the ‘pluses’ what went well and on the right, list the ‘deltas’ or things that could be/should be changed in the future to improve. Everyone on the team should contribute. A recommendation is to start with what went well – sharing accolades with each other and focusing on the positive. Once you’ve made a good start on the left side, then you can move to the other side and start thinking about what could be changed or done better.
Once the list is complete, you can’t stop there. Next, you need to prioritize the deltas – what are the critical things to be changed for next time and then add action items, assigning who is responsible for figuring out how to make the changes and adding deadlines (the when). Without the action items (and subsequent follow up) you just have a wish list.
This process should be repeated after each project – with the goal that the ‘delta’ side shrinks each time and errors aren’t repeated. Continuous improvement takes time and effort – your evaluation tools should be a living reference document to show you listened and made changes. If stuck in a drawer and forgotten they are useless.