3 Questions to Guide Evaluation and Planning

As Seth Godin recently wrote, the sentiment  “You Can’t Argue With Success…” is a faulty one.  Our summer camp ministry is going very well and impacting many lives for God’s glory, and yet lately we’ve felt burdened that perhaps God is calling us to increase our impact in various ways.  As a result, we recently spent several days in evaluation and strategic planning for our summer camps.  We were blessed with a beautiful, relaxed off-site meeting location, and an effective outside consultant who guided the process before, during, and after the actual retreat.

Perhaps you don’t have the need or resources for such an extensive process (we’re certainly in that boat most of the time), but you can still use the following three simple questions to spur improvements for your event:

What should we KEEP doing?  Think about what your event does well.  Does it satisfy a significant need for your tribe (another Godin term)?  Are you doing/providing something of value that isn’t readily available elsewhere?  Does the format of your event encourage the primary goals for the event?  In what ways are you “wowing” attendees?  By all means, recognize what you’re doing well, and keep it up!

What should we STOP doing?  Think about what isn’t working.  Or, just as important, think about what works well but isn’t perhaps of significant value for attendees.  In order to have the resources and energy to implement your answers to the next question, you’ll likely need to identify some activities you’ll need to stop.  Call it “sacrificing the good for the best”, or “emphasizing effectiveness over efficiency”, but identify aspects of your event that need to go.

What should we START doing?  Often this is the most fun question to consider.  What have you always wanted to do with your event?  What can help your event be more effective due to the changes in your industry or attendees over the years?  While input from your attendees can be useful in answering all three questions, it can be especially helpful when exploring options to initiate.

Whether your event is flying high, battling with inconsistency from year to year, or in a steady decline you wish to reverse, careful reflection on these three questions can provide invaluable information that will improve your event and provide greater value for your attendees.

It's Important To Evaluate Your Events

Words.  My mom always told me to choose my words carefully.  Replacing one word can change the context from a positive to a negative.  These word choices can also affect our attitude.  Michael Hyatt wrote a wonderful blog post (here) detailing this further.

These words can also affect our meetings.  When evaluating your events, I believe it’s important to put this into effect.  For instance, asking positive questions.  Here’s three positive questions that will help you guide your evaluation discussion:

  1. What did we do right?  My pastor detailed how our church starts each evaluation of an event with this question in this blog post (here).  This is a great question to start the discussion.  The natural tendency is to discuss what we did wrong.  This question gets us off to a positive discussion.
  2. What do we do the same?  We always want to go with what we need to do differently.  Maybe something worked really well and should be included next year.
  3. What went better than expected?  Events are always going to have those pieces that failed.  What about the parts that went better than you thought coming in?  You know what I’m talking about, because in your planning you wondered if that part would be successful.

These questions should be included in your overall evaluation with attendees.  Besides your evaluation, feedback from them could help drive the positive conversation.

Have you included positive questions in your feedback?  Which ones did you ask?  Did they effect your discussion?