Team of event organisers in an Event Post-Mortem Meeting

How to run an event post-mortem

Whether your appearance at an event has been a stunning success or a disappointing failure (and the majority fall somewhere in-between), it’s always a good idea to have an event post-mortem. But how do you get the answers you need without raising hackles?

Set up a brainstorming session that includes as many people involved in the event as possible. Arrange it soon after the event while everyone’s memory is still fresh.

Don’t just ask the people who staffed the stand at the event, though of course, they are essential. Consider also any members of staff involved in the organisation and logistics as well as those people who provided office support or covered for colleagues during their absence.

And don’t forget representatives from the sales or telemarketing team who are following up leads from the event. Their input will be vital. If the leads you pick up refuse to take follow up calls you’re wasting time and money.

Avoiding defensiveness

A bit of defensiveness is inevitable in this kind of meeting. The term ‘event post-mortem’ probably doesn’t help here – perhaps post-natal is better!

But while avoiding difficult questions can reduce conflict, it may also result in the most important learning opportunities being missed.

If you’re concerned about this, we’d suggest setting a few guidelines at the start of the meeting.

Emphasise the need for respectful conversations. If you can avoid ‘blamestorming’ people are more likely to open up and accept responsibility.

Then ask these tough questions

The three key questions

  1. What went well?  Start with the positives. There will be plenty of things that worked out well so make sure you capture them.
  2. What didn’t go well?  Move on to things, circumstances or interactions that went badly. Ask why. Make notes
  3. How could we make it better? What learnings can be drawn out for future events?

These questions will give you the big picture. Then you can move on to the detail.

Your event post-mortem questions might include: 

  • Did we get the stand and materials to the event and set up on time?
  • Were we missing any vital items? Do we need an event toolkit?
  • Did all our staff turn up (on time)? If not why not?
  • How many visitors did we get to our stand?
  • How well qualified were they?
  • How well did our pre-event marketing work?
  • Should we have covered anything else in our pre-event team briefing?
  • Were we able to speak to everyone who visited the stand?
  • Did we have a strategy to deal with tyre kickers?
  • Did the systems for capturing people’s data for following up work?
  • How quickly did we get this data to people doing the follow-up?
  • How ‘hot’ / well qualified were the leads? Did we get the data we need?
  • Did we secure a good stand location and make the most of our exhibition space?
  • Did any other stands draw bigger or better crowds? What did they do differently? Any ‘gimmicks’ we can ‘borrow’?
  • Did all the equipment work?
  • Did we have enough materials?
  • How well did the team work together?
  • Were we able to cover breaks?
  • Was the stand dismantled and packed correctly?
  • Did the stand get back to base safely?
  • Has the stand/equipment been checked for faults or damage?
  • What could we simplify or eliminate without detriment?
  • Did you meet your event objectives? (You did set event objectives didn’t you?)

After the event post-mortem meeting

Keep notes in the meeting and distribute them to all participants immediately after asking for any additional information. Give the reflectors in your team time to think.

Store the final version on your shared drive so anyone involved in events can find it.

As it can take months for a lead to come to fruition, it’s usually worth revisiting the notes with your sales team periodically.

And if your event logistics turn out to be one of your greatest challenges, it’s time to start working with a specialist provider like Bill Bowden Event Logistics.